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April 24th 2013: The Day The NHS Was Privatised

Last night Labour forced a crucial vote in the Lords on the Government's NHS competition regulations, amid growing evidence of accelerating NHS privatisation.
Pic:Despite an excellent speech from Lord Philip Hunt, Labour’s health spokesperson in the House of Lords, and with even Lord Owen in a sometimes passionate contribution urging support Labour's 'prayer' to annul the regulations; the Tory-led government succeeded in privatising the NHS!

The Labour motion was lost: Yes 146 No 254 - a government majority of 108.

In moving the motion to 'annul' S75 regulations, Lord Philip Hunt said;

"These regulations will create a culture of defensive contracting, where commissioners will go to tender if there is any doubt that a failure to do so will expose them to a possible damages claim. They are part of the Government’s drive to shift the culture of the NHS from a public service into a public marketplace, and of a piece with a number of other ominous developments which send the NHS along the same path.
Pic: Lod Philip HuntOut there in the NHS, a market is unfolding oblivious to any assurances given by ministers to Parliament, and these regulations are a crucial vehicle for its delivery. That is what makes the regulations so dangerous and so different from the guidance issued in 2010.

If the regulations are not struck down, decisions about who provides services to patients in the new NHS are not going to be made by clinicians. Instead, Clinical Commissioning Groups will be guided by advice they receive from their lawyers as to when CCGs should go out to tender – advice that in the vast majority of cases will be to do so to minimise the very real risk of legal challenge if they don't.”

The debate took place as new evidence emerges of the pace and extent of NHS privatisation.

A huge increase in the use of private ambulances – including for blue-light calls – was revealed at the weekend.
In the last two years, the London Ambulance Service has increased spending on private contractors from £400,000 to £4.2 million – a ten-fold increase. During the same period, the LAS has cut 900 front-line NHS jobs.

Pic: Andy Burnham Labour MPLast Friday, Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, spoke at the CWU North West's Retired Members Forum, saying:

“NHS privatisation is already proceeding at an alarming pace. If passed, these regulations will let the privatisation genie fully out of the bottle.
David Cameron promised to put doctors in charge and let them decide. He is now mandating the medical profession to carve the NHS open to full competition. The Prime Minister has mis-sold his NHS reforms and the Lords should not let him get away with it.  
Having been caught out trying to privatise the NHS by the front door, ministers are now trying to sneak in the same rules by the back. They are insulting the intelligence of Parliament and risking a crisis of trust amongst medical professions.

The House of Lords have a chance to stop this relentless march of privatisation to the heart of the NHS. The Prime Minister needs to be reminded that he does not have permission from the British people to put their NHS up for sale.”

Despite that and Lord Owen telling the Lords that if the new regulations go through it will be the end of the NHS as we know it, the Libdems along with Tory Lords voted to end the NHS and fully privatise England's healthcare services.

Lord Owen's warning that there are hundreds of American Healthcare companies just waiting to provide NHS services, and that they will begin to do so in ernest in the event of these regulations being passed; fell on death ears.

They were always going to, with Lord after Lord declaring vested interests in private healthcare companies in the UK!


You can see who voted and which way here

Source: Labour Party / Chris Ingram

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