Yvonne Fovargue MP: Fighting for NHS’s founding principles
The Health & Care Bill represents a rushed, top-down reorganisation of our NHS. It 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.
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. Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this is the wrong Bill at the wrong time.
This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS.
I believe the Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need.
There are widespread concerns that private sector involvement in NHS services has created a fragmented and marketised system.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012, which I have consistently opposed, introduced competitive tendering, forced privatisation and it prevents proper integration.
Instead of this being a simple Bill to end competition and foster local collaboration, I share your concerns that it may allow further outsourcing by permitting the private sector to sit on local boards. And it does not reinstate the NHS as the default provider of services.
In Parliament, Labour is seeking to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private, profit-motivated firms can have any role in the boards of the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS).
It is welcome that the Health Minister conceded to these concerns and said the Government will bring forward an amendment to protect the independence of ICS boards by preventing individuals with significant interests in private healthcare from sitting on them.
We will continue to press Ministers on this concession as the Bill progresses.
I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it. I will continue to resist any plans to allow further privatisation.
This is a critical moment for our planet and our country. I have long believed the overriding aim of the COP26 summit must be to keep the hope of limiting global heating to 1.5°C within reach.
Yet we know that to do this, we need to halve global emissions by the end of this decade, and we are alarmingly off track to achieving this goal.
I believe the Government needs to be clear about how much of the gap between existing pledges and the emissions reductions we need must be closed at COP26 to keep 1.5°C alive and what individual countries must do for that to happen.
It also needs to be clear about what must be done after COP26 to close the gap entirely.
Success at COP26 must also mean proper support for developing countries.
It is therefore extremely concerning that the commitment to provide $100 billion in climate finance annually to help developing nations transition and adapt will not be honoured until 2023.
This is a matter of trust for states on the frontline of the climate crisis and every wealthy country falling short will need to do more to reassure them.
I also believe our Government needs to reflect on its role in the failure to honour this pledge from 2020.
Finally, it is vital that the UK meets the climate emergency with the speed and scale of action it demands here at home.
While it has now published its net zero strategy, it continues to fail to invest in the green transition at the scale needed which would create good new jobs.
The Treasury needs to recognise that the prudent, responsible choice is to invest in the green transition.
This is why I support a green investment pledge of £28 billion extra each year until 2030.
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