Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the Efford Bill:
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding NHS privatisation and the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.
I appreciate and share many of the concerns raised by patients, healthcare professionals and organisations, regarding the Government's £3 billion restructuring of the NHS and the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
It is now over 18 months since the Government's re-organisation took effect, and it is clear that it has inflicted chaos on the NHS, with waiting lists rising and A&Es facing intolerable pressures. A&E is the barometer of the whole health and social care system but hospital A&E departments have now missed the Government's own lowered A&E target for every one of the past 70 weeks. Furthermore, one in four people now do not get to see a GP within a week and the NHS has missed the cancer treatment target for three quarters running.
That is why I welcome the commitment by the Shadow Health Secretary that a future Labour Government would repeal the Health and Social Care Act, allow hospitals to collaborate once again and reinstate the NHS as the preferred provider.
Additionally, I also believe that the competition regime introduced by the Government's Health and Social Care Act is a barrier to sensible collaboration within the NHS and is diverting resources which should be better spent on improving patient care. The Act also allows hospitals to earn up to 49 per cent of their income from private patients and we are now seeing hospitals extending their private patient units, even as waiting lists lengthen for NHS patients and treatments are rationed.
My Labour colleague, Clive Efford MP introduced the Private Members' Bill, the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill and I am pleased that it has now received Second Reading after it was debated in the House of Commons on 21st November 2014. This Bill would scrap the new market framework in the NHS, restore real democratic accountability and ensure NHS patients are always put first. The Bill would also give contracting authorities the right to use 'NHS contracts' to ensure they can avoid competition law, and return to a system based on collaboration and integration.
More widely, I believe urgent action is needed to combat the worrying deterioration of NHS services. That is why I welcome the announcement by the Leader of the Opposition that a future Labour Government would raise £2.5 billion for an NHS 'Time to Care Fund' by clamping down on tax avoidance, raising revenue from tobacco companies and introducing a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million. This will allow the NHS to recruit 20,000 more nurses, 3,000 more midwives, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 extra home care services, and deliver the full integration of health and social care.
As a former health minister in the Labour Government the NHS is clearly very close to my heart. The Bristol South Community Hospital in my constituency is part of the legacy of the Labour Government and is an excellent example of what a NHS hospital should be.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.