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Leeds MP Richard Burgon: We must reverse the drift towards US-style healthcare

CONCERN: Staff at St James's Hospital contacted Richard Burgon about plans to set up a private company to employ NHS staff.
CONCERN: Staff at St James's Hospital contacted Richard Burgon about plans to set up a private company to employ NHS staff.

St. James’s Hospital is in my constituency. It’s a place that means a lot to me. I was born there.

Along with family and friends I’ve benefited from it ever since. I was concerned when committed NHS staff who work there got in touch about plans to set up a private company to employ NHS staff.

They asked me to back their campaign against these plans, which will create a two-tier workforce as new staff coming into the service start on worse pay and conditions than existing staff.

I didn’t need asking twice. Hardworking NHS staff in Leeds deserve better than zero-hours contracts and inferior pay and pensions. And NHS patients deserve better than an NHS staffed on the cheap.

To get technical for a moment, one of the reasons NHS Trusts want to set up separate companies to employ staff is a loophole which allows these companies to claim back VAT – something NHS Trusts aren’t allowed to do. The Government should close this tax loophole.

I’m proud that it was my party that created our NHS. I believe our NHS is an example of socialist principles put in to practice. It shows that not everything has to be run to fill the coffers of greedy fat cats.

We must reverse the drift towards a USA-style healthcare system where they feel for your wallet before they feel for your pulse.

As a constituency MP, I’ve had positive experiences of dealing with the Trust’s Chief Executive. Having to deal with cuts imposed on him by the Government is not easy.

The Trust has been formally notified that Unison members could be balloted on industrial action. I and other Leeds MPs have made strong representations to him. A solution needs to be found – NHS patients and staff in Leeds deserve no less.

Richard Burgon is Labour MP for Leeds East