Diane Abbott MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has pledged her support for the British Medical Association’s campaign against privatisation, ‘Look after our NHS’.
Abbott met with BMA Council Chair Dr Hamish Meldrum at Westminster last week.
The pair discussed how privatisation was based on the false idea that healthy competition would drive up standards.
They agreed that in fact the evidence showed that the involvement of the private sector would: put up the cost to the taxpayer; fragment health services; worsen pay and conditions for health service workers; see a loss in transparency and accountability to local people and could ultimately see good providers forced to sell off their services to private companies.
Abbott has agreed to write to Health Minister Andy Burnham to find out whether his assurance that the NHS would be the ‘preferred provider’ means he no longer believes privatisation is viable.
Three clinics in Hackney are already being run by private profit-making companies and there are plans for two new GP-led health centres to be tendered out.
Dr Meldrum said: ‘There seems to be an idea that if we leave it to the private sector, they’ll sort the problems out.
‘We very much support Andy Burnham’s statement on preferred status for NHS providers but need to see this translated into action at a local level.’
Abbott said: ‘ “Choice” and “competition” are euphemisms for the introduction of the private sector into core public services like education and health.
‘We know that bringing the private sector in is not what people want.
‘They know that privatisation means an end to the public service ethos and resources being creamed off to create profits for the private sector companies.
‘That money could otherwise be spent on the service.
‘What people really want is high quality local schools and hospitals.
‘People, especially older people, worry that with the big “polyclinics” they will not get a personal service or be able to build a relationship with their doctor.
‘I will be working with the BMA to fight privatisation of health services in Hackney.’