As you may know, this Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill last summer and as such, it is subject to the constraints associated with the parliamentary timetable. Even if the Bill were to receive its second reading this week (and there is no guarantee that it will even be debated), there is little prospect of the Bill becoming law in this session due to a lack of parliamentary time.
Our National Health Service is a treasure and the envy of the world, and I will always vote in Parliament to protect it. My colleagues and I in the Labour Party are committed to an NHS free at the point of use, and serving the needs of the community, a truly public National Health Service.
This Friday I have already agreed to meet with representatives of local GP surgeries and Dr Onkar Sahota, our local GLA member, about the challenges facing local service provision. I also have my longstanding meeting the Metropolitan Police Borough Commander to discuss issues in policing locally and where I raise specific issues brought to me in my surgeries.
I support wholeheartedly many of the clauses within the NHS Reinstatement Bill, particularly the principles behind duties outline in Clause 1 of the proposed Bill – namely restoring accountability to the Secretary of State for the delivery of health services and the requirement that a comprehensive health service continues to be provided free of charge.
I also believe that the encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted and that decisions about NHS services should never be called into question by any international treaties or agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
I am not convinced however that the bill addresses all of the problems it aims to correct in the right way. Parts of this Bill would require another wholesale reorganisation of the health service, and I am concerned about the scale of structural change and the costs associated with any further major reorganisation of the NHS.
In line with our manifesto commitment at the last election, Labour is committed to repealing the competition elements of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and ensuring that patient care is always put before profits, and collaboration before competition. Therefore if the Bill were to proceed, my Labour colleagues and I would seek to amend it so that it avoids the problems of a further reorganisation but implements the key principles of the Bill.
I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and I will read with interest the arguments made during the debate, and will look forward to hearing more from you on this matter as the bill proceeds.