This week I joined campaigners outside Parliament in calling for the government to scrap plans to pass a new Bill to reorganise the NHS in England.
It is astounding, but not surprising that after nine years of failure and after a year of handing millions of pounds to private companies for useless PPE and a failed privatised test, trace and track system, the Government are now proposing to increase, not reduce, the influence of private companies in the health service.
I know people in my constituency who work in the NHS or rely on its vital services have grave concerns about what this Bill will do and I know many are already working to stop further privatisation. So it was great to meet campaigners outside Parliament and hear about what more I can do to support their work to protect our NHS.
The Health and Care Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Commons on 14 July, is expected to enter the next stage of its passage on 9 November. The Bill will divide the NHS in England into 42 areas, called Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), each with its own budget and a board to oversee the delivery of health services for the area.
The Bill will allow private companies to sit on the boards that oversee the new ICSs and make decisions about how the budget is spent. There are concerns that by repealing Section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which required that all contracts be put through a competitive tendering process, the Bill will open the NHS to more crony contracts.
The protest was organised by We Own It and Just Treatment, a patient-led group that represents the voice of patients. It was also supported by Unite the Union, the British Medical Association, the National Pensioners Convention, and more.