IMG_3614With the local NHS under increasing threat, Stephen Pound, MP for Ealing North, has voted for Labour’s new Bill to repeal the Tories’ new competition rules that drive NHS privatisation at the expense of patient care.

Labour MP Clive Efford successfully introduced a Bill this week that will scrap David Cameron’s market framework for the NHS and make sure local NHS patients are always put first. Now the Tory-led government is under pressure to honour this new bill and make sure it is enacted and enforced.

The Tory-led government has forced hospitals to open themselves up to a privatisation agenda which prioritises spending on competition lawyers and tendering exercises instead of on patient care.

Stephen Pound voted for Labour’s new Bill as a way of protecting and saving our NHS, and has challenged the government to act to make sure patients are put before profits.
Stephen Pound said: “The Tories’ approach is to let private companies cherry-pick the most profitable NHS services, regardless of patient need, and spend more money on economic regulators and competition lawyers. Instead, Labour will ensure that the NHS once again puts patients before profits. Labour will rescue the NHS with our £2.5 billion Time to Care package which will fund new staff including 20,000 more nurses – investment the Tories will not match.

“The Tories haven’t just destabilised our health service; they’re holding it back from meeting the challenges of the 21st century as well. I voted for this new Bill because it will end the creep towards NHS privatisation, bureaucracy and red-tape, and put patients back at the heart of the NHS. Now it’s time for the Tory-led government to listen to Parliament and put this bill into action so that patients in Ealing North are prioritised once again.”

What’s it All About?
Under the Tories’ damaging Health and Social Care Act, enforced competition and creeping privatisation within the NHS have left patient care as an afterthought and not the priority that it should be. On 21st November, a Private Member’s Bill from Clive Efford MP was debated which, if passed, will restore real democratic accountability for the NHS, scrap the new competition framework and make sure NHS patients are always put first.
Labour’s Bill to repeal David Cameron’s market framework in the NHS
The Bill would scrap the rules that force market tendering of services and that are seeing millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers instead of patient care.

Section 75 regulations
These are the rules that many doctors say are forcing them to put services out to the market, even if they do not want to, for fear of legal challenge.
Labour oppose these regulations because they risk fragmenting care and are seeing large amounts of money spent on tendering exercises rather than patient care.
• Freedom of Information requests by the Labour Party show NHS hospitals are now spending in excess of £60 million per year just on tendering exercises / assessing tenders for bids. In addition to this, Clinical Commissioning Groups will also be spending millions on putting services out to tender.
• In a survey by Health Service Journal, two thirds of commissioners said they had experienced increased commissioning costs as a result of the new regulations (Health Service Journal, 4 April 2014)
• Last year, the Chief Executive of the NHS said “You’ve got competition lawyers all over the place, causing enormous difficulty…We are getting, in my view, bogged down in a morass of competition law which is causing?.?.?.?significant cost in the system” (Sir David Nicholson, Financial Times, 5 November 2013).

The Bill scraps these rules and return to a system based on collaboration and integration. The Bill would also give contracting authorities the right to use ‘NHS contracts’ to ensure they can avoid competition law.