Leeds MP Richard Burgon warns Health and Care Bill will turn NHS into 'USA-style healthcare system'

A Leeds MP has warned against creating a "USA-style healthcare system" in England, as campaigners urge the Government to scrap plans to restructure the NHS.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 11:45 am

Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, has joined the calls from campaign group We Own It for the Government to ditch a new Bill that could see the NHS reorganised if it passes through Parliament.

It comes after the group staged a protest outside the Houses of Parliament last week, which Mr Burgon attended, alongside more than 35 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and SNP MPs.

The Health and Care Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Commons on July 14, is expected to enter the next stage of its passage on November 9.

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Leeds East MP Richard Burgon.

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Trade unionists and critics claim 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.

Mr Burgon said: "I attended the protest because local residents but also people across the country are very concerned about the latest changes to the NHS the Government are proposing.

"What we are seeing is the final step in the attempt to turn the NHS into an American-style insurance-based system.

"The abolition of competitive tendering we feel will result in more and more NHS contracts going to the private sector."

He said that, if it comes to fruition, allowing private companies to sit on NHS boards "was a concern".

Mr Burgon added: "And all of these things have really worried people both here in Leeds and across the country and trade unions representing NHS workers.

"That's the reason I attended the demonstration. Because I think the NHS is the most well-loved institution in our country.

"We can't allow our NHS to be transformed into a USA-style healthcare system. It would be completely unacceptable. We need to have an NHS where people are put before profit."

According to the NHS' website, ICSs are "new partnerships between the organisations that meet health and care needs across an area, to coordinate services and to plan in a way that improves population health and reduces inequalities between different groups".

It adds that they are "deepening the relationship in many areas between the NHS, local councils and other important strategic partners such as the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector" and that ICSs have "developed better and more convenient services, invested in keeping people healthy and out of hospital and set shared priorities for the future".

Johnbosco Nwogbo, lead campaigner at We Own It, said: “This Bill will put on steroids the government's corrupt contracting we've seen during the pandemic. With the Secretary of State for Health set to receive increased powers in this bill, Sajid Javid will be enabled to simply hand out contracts to party donors and friends without any kind of scrutiny”.

He added: “It’s clear that a lot of MPs are really worried about how this bill will change our NHS and open it to being used as a profit-making venture for profit-greedy private companies within it. We just hope more of them, including Conservatives, will speak out.”