LABOUR said yesterday that it will oppose the government’s Health and Social Care Bill.
‘With more than one-in-10 people on waiting lists for treatment in some areas, now is not the time to reorganise the NHS,’ it said.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Jonathan Ashworth MP, said: ‘This is the wrong bill at the wrong time and Labour will be voting against the legislation at second reading and will strongly resist anything that permits further privatisation of the NHS.’
With more than 5.3 million people awaiting vital medical treatment across the country, statistics from the House of Commons Library for Labour show the picture is most serious in NHS Birmingham and Solihull, where the number is 146.7 per 1,000 population (1 in 7 people) and in Stockport, at 132.6 (1 in 8 people).
Other areas with long waiting lists include Salford and Manchester, South East Staffordshire, East and North Hertfordshire and Southend.
The research also shows 10 CCGs across England have more than 100,000 patients on their waiting lists, including NHS Black Country and West Birmingham, NHS Kent and Medway and NHS Devon.
The waiting list figures are highest in NHS North East London, at more than 182,500, NHS North West London, at more than 178,800 and in NHS Birmingham and Solihull, at more than 173,100.
Labour has urged the government to focus on bringing down waiting lists instead of pursuing a top-down reorganisation of the NHS.
Ashworth said: ‘NHS staff have been through the most intense 18-months in the history of the health service and Covid admissions are rising steeply again.
‘Waiting times for operations are increasing, young people are struggling to access adequate mental health support and cancer patients see vital treatment and surgery cancelled.
‘Sajid Javid has warned waiting lists could top 13-million but instead of bringing forward the investment needed to bring waiting lists down, he is embarking on a top down reorganisation of the NHS that fails to integrate health and social care, represents a significant erosion of local accountability with a power grab for the Secretary of State and risks a new wave of lucrative crony contracts handed to the private sector.
‘Labour will always put patients first and this legislation won’t provide the quality care patients deserve.’
- This Bill is a ‘privateers charter’ Ashworth told a 70-strong rally outside Parliament yesterday afternoon.
‘The Health and Social Care Bill Bill does not make the NHS the default provider of health services but makes it easier for private providers to come in,’ he told the rally, called by Keep our NHS Public.
He said: ‘Labour will be voting against the bill and working with campaign groups and the trade unions throughout the summer.’
Co-chair of Keep Our NHS public, BMA member Tony O’Sullivan said: ‘The pandemic has proved that privatisation fails miserably.
‘It is legalised cronyism.
‘The National Audit office has condemned giving contracts to Tory friends of the government.
‘We are here to stop a free for all in the NHS.’