Gareth Wright, health spokesperson
Gareth Wright, health spokesperson

With the Health and Care bill due to come before parliament South East Cambridgeshire Labour’s health spokesperson, Gareth Wright, has  written to Lucy Frazer expressing his concerns.

 

Dear Ms Frazer

There’s no doubt that the NHS is in need of help and reform. I’ve worked in it for 30 years and never experienced anything as bad as I see now. The Government’s proposed reforms in the Health and Care bill are, though, the wrong prescription at the wrong time.

After £billions lost to sleaze and incompetence, we need more accountability, not less

£37 billion on the Government’s failed Test & Trace programme. A programme condemned by the Public Accounts Committee as ‘Muddled, overstated and eye-wateringly expensive’.

Multiple procurements of PPE unfit for purpose. Contracts handed out without competition to companies with no health experience. £12.5 billion questioned by the National Audit Office.

We need more oversight by Health Care Professionals. Yet the Government is determined to move in the opposite direction. The Bill puts ‘Integrated Care Boards’ at the heart of the new system.

The boards have no obvious roles for clinical leaders eg GPs nor for professional staff bodies and only a limited role for local authorities (responsible for much social care). Yet Government gets powers to appoint directors with potential roles for private providers, creating conflicts of interest.

Lessons need to be learned before attempting reorganisation

Good medical practice is evidence based. Such as the evidence that will be in the outcome of the Public Inquiry into Covid. The Inquiry that the Prime Minister is delaying. How can you justify reorganising the NHS before we know the recommendations?

Staff have been working flat-out for nearly two years. We need to focus on cutting waiting lists and regaining our mental health, not being distracted with worries about job security and organisational issues. How can you expect healthcare staff to participate in engaging with this Bill under the current circumstances?

A missed opportunity to do what the public wants

Opinion polls consistently show that voters want to keep the NHS as a publicly funded service based on the founding principles of treating according to clinical need, not ability to pay.

The new Bill does not restore the duty to provide a universal health service, or sustainably fund NHS and social care services. This is surely a fundamental tenet of a Public Health Service.

Working in an NHS hospital, I know only too well the issues of a lack of integration between health and social care. Not only do we suffer from ‘bed blocking’ but saw the disastrous consequences of the Government diktat to discharge elderly patients into care without a Covid test.

There’s an opportunity to do much good with integrated health and social care. This bill isn’t it.

The bill comes to Parliament for debate on November 22nd. Ironically on the 31st anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation having grown increasingly out-of-touch with public opinion. With the Conservatives once again struggling for respect and confidence, it is time to reconsider these ill thought out and badly timed plans.

 

Yours,

 

Gareth Wright

 

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