2021-10-10 14:24

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Labour Party Conference Exposed Labour Leadership True Position On NHS Abolition
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Acquiescence and Silence over Health & Care Bill

Pic: July news articleIn July, Unionsafety asked the question: Can We Expect Labour To Oppose The Americanisation And Privatisation Of The NHS?

The news article continued:

As previously reported by Unionsafety, supported by the evidence from the media, healthcare pressure groups, the BMA, BMJ, HSJ, Tory and Labour MPs, NHS England and Government policy papers; the NHS is already splitting up into 42 Americanised Integrated Care Systems that currently have no legal standing and is contrary to the universal and national service of healthcare that the NHS constitution is based upon.

This will vanish following the introduction of the NHS Bill; it’s passing into law by April 2022 and the abolition of the existing NHS Constitution, along with the handing over of healthcare in England to a locally controlled ICS and administered by the private sector with no accountability to patients.

But to date, little in rejection of these plans has been uttered by the Labour Party opposition in Parliament, and what little has been said does not attack the basic principle that the NHS is being privatised.


In this personal contribution to the debate over Labour and the Privatisation (abolition) of the NHS, Unionsafety's editor Chris Ingram; looks at the evidence and tries to answer the question:

Labour's leader Kier Starmer ignored the whole subject of the Health & Care Bill in his speech to Labour's annual conference last week, whilst shadow health secretary, Jonathon Ashworth contributed just one sentence to what majority see as the abolition of the NHS, replaced by an American-designed Integrated Care System of 42 boards and sub-boards.

Pic: Jonathon and Angela leave conferenceFurthermore, with the media paying little attention to the legislation which guarantees the end of any such thing as a system of national healthcare, fragments it, and hands it over to private companies such as Certene, Virgincare and Kaiser Permanante; you would think that party conferences would give opposition parties, and in particular Labour; the opportunity to highlight to the public what the legislation actually means for the NHS, and thereby forcing the media to finally report on the subject.

The end result being to alert the General Public to the imminent destruction and abolition of the world's best healthcare system that even the American public are envious of, and have pleaded with the UK not to take on their costly and dangerous healthcare system.

But, No!

The deliberate lack of any statements from the Labour leadership opposing the Health & Care Bill, along with both the Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathon Ashworth and Deputy Leader Angela Raynor's leaving of the Conference top table just as the Health and Social Care debate started; says all you need to know about the position of the Labour Party in Parliament towards the Bill and the inevitable destruction of the NHS. Labour MPs and Lords having direct financial interests in private healthcare can be guaranteed almost not to oppose this Bill.

Even in the short mention of the Tory's Health & Care Bill, he didn't even get the name of the Bill correct!

In fact, he spent more time introducing and congratulating his team, than he did actually talking about the Bill itself.

The rest of his speech showed just how unprepared he and his team are to oppose the abolition of the NHS. In stating what the next Labour Government will do for the NHS, without any mention of the fact that they won't be able to do anything if the Bill remains as it is, because there will NOT be such a thing as a national system of healthcare in England!

Based on Ashworth and Starmer's speeches to Labour Conference 2021, the reality is that NO outright opposition to the Health & Care Bill will be evident from the Parliamentary Labour Party!

Instead tinkering with the Bill through amendments being tabled during the Committee stages of the Bill, with little chance of such amendments being accepted by Johnson and his crew in accepting anything which in reality compromises their intent on abolishing the NHS by stealth; is the preferred stand of Starmer and his shadow Cabinet; rather than outright opposition to it!

In fact and admitted to in an opinion piece written for the Guardian, Ashworth actually wants the creation of 'integrated care' in the UK. He said, he will ensure a 'democratic system of ICS'. However, his naivety and lack of awareness of what the American Integrated Care System is all about; becomes even more obvious after his lamentable contribution to the debate on the future of the NHS in England at last week's Labour Party Conference.

Confusion reins though, because his stance as stated in a response to The Lowdown as reported in the July news article mentioned in the introduction to this news item is; "Labour will be fighting in Parliament and the across the country for a publicly provided, fully funded comprehensive NHS.” That is exactly what the Tory legislation abolishes!

The act of not addressing the issue of the Health and Care Bill at last week's conference, along with the media's complisence with the Tory's aims for the privatisation of the NHS, will help to ensure the public remain blind to what is really going on with the NHS and will also give Starmer and Co deniability when it comes to claims the party never opposed the Bill.

It also of course means that the financial gains made by Labour MPs and Labour Lords along with those of other political parties in Westminster with financial interests in healthcare companies; will increase and that healthcare in England at least, will be privatised. Further financial profits will be available to them once some of the 42 ICS merge and American health insurance companies under the lead of Certene and Kaiser Permanante buy them up!

The health and social care debate was opened up by a lacklustre and rhetorical speech from Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathon Ashworth devoid of any detail whatsoever of Labour's opposition to the Tories Health and Care Bill.

The opportunity to blow the whole issue open, forcing the press to report the issue and in doing so alert the public to the break-up of the NHS into 42 autonomous entities called Integrated Care Systems (ICS); was deliberately not taken!

The full details of what the Tory Health and Care Bill, which will bring the 42 ICS into the legislative framework, and make it nigh impossible to reverse; was never mentioned in his speech.

It took two CLP and Trade Union delegates to raise the issue in a debate which he didn't even stay in the Conference Hall to listen to! Both he and the Deputy Leader, Angela Raynor decided without notice to even the Chair; to leave the debate as soon as Sefton CLP delegate ripped in to the Tory's Health & Care Bill, pointing sharply to the top table as she made it clear that nothing less than outright opposition to the Bill which will hand health care in the UK to private American and UK companies.

Delegates: Emma Whitbey, Sefton CLP and Bonnie Craven, Sutton & Cheam CLP

Shockingly, Murdoch's The Sun tabloid was allowed to be sold at the Conference, Emma Whitby was threatened with the confiscation of her NHS Anti-Privatisation posters or her removal from the Conference building by officials, who claimed the handing out of political publications was not allowed in the Conference buildings!

So Starmer and the Conference Organising Committee were happy with sale of the Tory supporting tabloid,
but not the handing out of FREE leaflets on the NHS?

With the Chair of the Conference interrupting her speech when she held up the offending campaign poster at the rostrum and the departure of Ashworth and Raynor immediately after; the message was loud and clear!

In fairness, both Labour Party MPs may have had appointments to rush to, but the general courtesy is for the Chair to at least explain their departure. Clearly, he was somewhat bemused by their leaving, if not surprised.


Meanwhile, people can be forgiven for believing that the Trade Unions at Conference, may be of the same opinion as that apparently shown by the Labour Party leadership.

Indeed many Trade Unions no doubt ask what the view of the NHS Unions is of the Tories plans to fragment the NHS from a national body caring for the health of all citizens irrespective of ability to pay for their treatment, to an American system run as a business and which cuts healthcare based on their need to maximise profit!

After all, the whole principle of Healthcare since 1948 is what the Tories are dismantling by forming 42 Integrated Care Systems with full autonomy with regards to constitution, healthcare provision and indeed the choice to commission delivery by private American companies or the NHS. This will mean 42 ICS run by business leaders, private healthcare companies and with no remit to have to include anyone from the NHS Clinical staff.

One Unison Branch Rep attending Conference and speaking on one of 8 amendments to the Health and Social Care policy statement, made her CLP's opinion clear:

To read about further opinion the NHS Trade Unions have provided in response to the Government's Health & Social Care Consultation document, see the written evidence appendix in the E-Library here

The full debate on Health and Social Care, which included reference backs to the policy document, took up the whole of the morning session of the Conference.

It included not just the speeches above, but also gave conference a wealth of information about what really is going on in the NHS and subsequently changed the policy document.

Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, Jonathon Ashworth Labour's Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary; was not in attendance to hear the changes being debated.

You can watch the full Labour Party Conference Health & Social Care debate below:

Whilst the Labour leadership appears unable to alert the public as to the loss of the NHS as we currently know it, and as designed in 1948 when it was first set up, only by writing to your own Labour MP and urging them to fully oppose the Tory dismantling of the NHS as being legislated for via the Health and Care Bill; can you find out how they intend to act in the defense of the NHS.

Sadly, too many MPs of all parties do not read the details of the legislation being proposed, and simply vote as their party whip tells them too!

This was the case with the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011, which was passed with few amendments and became law in 2012.

In wanting to see how the new Tory 'NHS Abolition' Bill is being seen by Labour, I wrote to my local MP making it clear I was of the view that Labour should totally oppose the Tory 'NHS abolition' Bill.

The response I received showed just how lacking the speech at conference was from Jonathon Ashworth. My local MP clearly understands far more about what the Bill will do to the NHS.

Here is the contents of my MP's response to me:

"The Bill seeks to enact policies set out in the Government’s ‘Integration and Innovation’ White Paper, as well as recommendations for legislative reform outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

It covers structural reorganisation of the NHS, an expansion of powers for the Secretary of State, the establishment of the Health Services Safety Investigations Body, and some public health measures. It does not cover wider reforms
of the social care and public health systems.

The Bill includes plans to repeal and dismantle many aspects of the Government’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which introduced competitive tendering and was criticised for increasing private involvement in the NHS. I have consistently been opposed to the Act on the grounds it has fragmented services and undermined the principles of the
NHS as a comprehensive and universal healthcare system. It caused massive wastage
and has led to more problems within the NHS.

The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated, and that it has incorporated lessons learnt from the pandemic.

This is the wrong Bill at the wrong time. It contains sweeping changes that will fail to integrate health and social care, erode local accountability, and give powers to the Health Secretary to hand major contracts to the private sector without scrutiny. It will allow further outsourcing permitting the private sector to sit on local boards and it does
not reinstate the NHS as the default provider of services. Moreover, it will do nothing to improve the standards of care for patients or to support staff.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the Bill to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS or wider reform of adult social care and workforce pressures. Alongside increasing COVID-19 pressures, waiting lists have risen to a record 5.3 million, more than 336,000 patients are waiting longer than a year for
treatment, young people are struggling to access adequate mental health support, and cancer patients have had vital treatment and surgery cancelled.

Health leaders are warning that this ill-thought through Bill, with its rushed top-down reorganisation, could cause further significant disruption. The Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need, addressing the crisis in social care, and giving the NHS workforce the pay
rise they deserve.

Instead of this being a simple Bill to end competition and foster local collaboration, NHS staff will be left trying to second-guess where the Health Secretary will interfere next in the running of services. The rules on funding could result in more rationing and cuts.

The NHS is our greatest institution, established more than 70 years ago to provide universal healthcare free at the point of use. I am committed to upholding its founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it, and I will continue to strongly resist any plans to allow further
privatisation with no oversight."

Now, that is the speech that Jonathon Ashworth should have given!


See also:

NHS Privatisation News Archive for more articles and information about the abolition of the NHS

You can also find official documents and reports from Government and NHS Campaign organisations in the E-Library explaining the details of NHS privatisation and abolition. Select search category 'NHS'.

 

Pic: Bak to News icon link

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