Ian Byrne MP supports NHS Staff and against government reorganisation plans
I pay tribute to all my constituents in Liverpool, West Derby who work in the NHS and social care; I send my solidarity and thanks to them. My speech will focus on defending these workers and on defending our NHS against the Government’s plan for major reorganisation—words that should terrify every citizen in this country who values this wonderful model of socialism. These worrying plans come at the same time as 5 million people are waiting for NHS treatment, and at the same time that NHS staff are exhausted and those same staff are facing a proposed real-terms pay cut.
Last month, I held a meeting with Royal College of Nursing members. They were visibly exhausted, and I came away genuinely worried for their wellbeing. How can this be? I urge the Minister to listen to the concerns of the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign, Doctors in Unite, EveryDoctor, Keep Our NHS Public, We Own It and many others who are calling for the reorganisation to be halted and for a full public consultation.
The Government’s proposals for the NHS, as set out in their White Paper, could, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood) has said, open up privatisation, deregulation and cronyism. They could open up opportunities for private companies to be represented on ICS boards, have a say in what healthcare gets delivered in an area and then provide that service. They could allow for the deregulation of professionals, which would threaten patient safety and have serious implications for the pay, terms and conditions of NHS workers. It is unthinkable that the Government are pushing ahead with these plans after the events of the past year. A person more cynical than me would maybe think that the exhausted state of both the NHS and the nation have created an environment that the Government find ideal for pushing through these changes, which will imperil the public ownership of our NHS even more.
In closing, I ask that this Government find the same values that they discovered earlier in the month, when greedy billionaire capitalists tried to destroy our football heritage, putting profit ahead of the interests of football fans, and the Government reacted. Well, now they are back, but this time it is our NHS that they wish to destroy. I ask the Government to act with equal urgency to protect the greatest jewel in our heritage—to halt these plans for the reorganisation of the NHS and a roll-out of integrated care systems and, instead of pushing ahead with privatisation and threatening the rights of our NHS workers, to give our health service the resources it needs and give our NHS workers a 15% pay rise. They deserve no less.
Margaret Greenwood MP
” instead of addressing these issues, the Government have come forward with a damaging White Paper that says very little on care but proposes a major reorganisation of the national health service.”
“A recovery plan for the NHS and social care is urgently needed. Almost 5 million people in England are waiting for NHS treatment, and a quarter of people with mental health problems are having to wait months to get help. NHS staff are exhausted from battling coronavirus, and there are nearly 90,000 vacancies across the NHS in England. Social care is in crisis following over a decade of savage cuts by the Conservatives, and 1.5 million older people are not receiving the social care support that they need. Care workers, many of them paid below the real living wage, have been working in extremely difficult circumstances.
However, instead of addressing these issues, the Government have come forward with a damaging White Paper that says very little on care but proposes a major reorganisation of the national health service. To do so at a time when staff are exhausted and millions are waiting for treatment is reckless and irresponsible. It is not acceptable that the Government have not carried out a consultation on their White Paper, and Ministers have failed to communicate the impact that the changes would have on patients and staff.Toggle showing location ofColumn 772
It beggars belief that the Secretary of State said on Monday that his proposed reforms would help to deal with the backlog. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sir David Nicholson, former chief executive of NHS England, has warned that the Government’s impending shake-up of the NHS could prompt a lot of staff already exhausted by covid to quit.
The Government’s damaging plans to put 42 integrated care systems across England on a statutory footing, with each ICS setting its own plan for health and social care, would embed a postcode lottery, with the health and social care services that people could access varying depending on where they live. The plans would open up the opportunity for private companies to have a say in what health and social care services are provided in an area, and the very same private companies could potentially then provide those services, representing an opportunity for huge conflicts of interest. The plans would also give the Government the power to remove a profession from regulation, with potentially serious implications for patient safety and for the employment status and terms and conditions of workers.
Professor Kailash Chand, honorary vice-president of the British Medical Association, said:
“The core thrust of the new reforms is to deprofessionalise and downskill the practice of medicine in this country, so as to make staff more interchangeable, easier to fire, more biddable, and, above all, cheaper.”
The plans would also allow the discharge of vulnerable patients from hospital before they have been assessed for continuing healthcare, leaving patients at risk and families to pick up the pieces. The Government’s plans would create immense uncertainty for NHS staff and open the door to widespread cronyism and increased privatisation.
On Monday, the Secretary of State told me that my party’s Front Benchers welcome the reforms. He is wrong. Labour’s Front Benchers have not welcomed these reforms. He really should get his facts straight. I call on the Government to pause the whole process of their reorganisation of the national health service until after all covid restrictions have been lifted and they have carried out a full public consultation, so that patients, NHS staff, care workers and unpaid carers can have their say on the proposals.”
Please join our campaign to repair and reinstate a fully funded world class NHS, with well paid staff, and all the necessary treatments, without the privateers and cuts. Email SaveLWH@outlook.com