Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
On Monday, the government announced that it would be “pausing” the Health and Social Care Bill – its reckless health legislation.
I have been leading for the opposition on the Health and Social Care Bill Committee for the last seven weeks -; the longest Bill Committee for nine years.
It is not enough for the government to pause and do the wrong things more slowly, but it is a good time to highlight the many problems with this 281 clause Bill.
The Tory Lib -; Dem Government is making the biggest shake-up to the NHS in its history, at the same time as asking the health service to find £15-20 billion in efficiency savings. It is reckless, and poses a huge threat to healthcare in Islington and throughout the country.
I asked all the witnesses to the Bill Committee whether they thought this Bill was reckless and they all agreed it was – except Andrew Lansley and two others.
I have written an article on the threat to our local health services for the Islington Tribune -; read it at http://www.emilythornberry.com/news/22/17/The-Threat-to-Islington-s-Health-Service/
The NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson described these changes as “so big you will be able to see them from outer-space” -; and on Newsnight I challenged the Tory MP Michael Fallon over the government’s ideologically driven plans.
The government wants to force competition into the heart of our health service and make it more subject to European Competition Law. I have asked the Ministers to publish the legal advice they were given about the effect of European Competition Law on the NHS. They have so far refused.
You can watch the programme at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0105rt9
Labour proposed 100s of amendments to the government’s legislation in the Health and Social Care Bill Committee and pushed 100s to a vote -; but the Tories and Lib Dems would not give an inch.
As soon as the Bill Committee was over, and they were no longer subject to democratic scrutiny, Lansley and Cameron suddenly said they would look again at the legislation. But they have gone behind closed doors to do so.
This does beg the question: do they enter this consultation with an open mind, or are they convinced that they are right and actually believe they just need longer to sell their case to us?
The NHS offers a fantastic service – in fact to justify their reforms the government tried to bury a survey which showed the NHS had the highest satisfaction ratings in its history.
I wound up the Westminster Hall debate on Public Satisfaction with the NHS and I made the point that Cameron’s personal commitment to the NHS had helped to transform his old image as a former Bullingdon Boy and shadowy former advisor to Norman Lamont. But now he has lost the public’s trust on the issue.
You can read my speech at
The NHS is not perfect -; but it is much better than it was when Labour inherited it. After the last election it was passed in trust to this government. Instead of building on our achievements, they are forcing ideologically driven reforms on the service.
On Monday we saw nothing less than confusion, contradictions and incompetence – our NHS deserves better.