Caroline Lucas will today present a cross-party Bill which she says is to restore and fully safeguard the NHS. The National Health Service Bill will receive its first reading in Parliament after Prime Ministers Questions. It seeks to restore the founding principles behind the NHS and halt what the Greens say is creeping privatisation of public health services.
The Bill has gained cross-party support of backbench MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru, including the backing of Liberal Democrat MPs Andrew George and John Pugh, and Labour MP Michael Meacher. It marks the culmination of months consultation by campaigners, grassroots organisations, and health experts - led by Allyson Pollock, Professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary University of London, and Barrister, Peter Roderic.
The Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service – with time and flexibility for implementation – and so reversing 25 years of marketisation, for an NHS that is truly public, joined-up, fully protected and free at the point of delivery. Scotland and Wales have already reversed marketisation and restored their NHS without immense upheaval. England can too.
Far from being another top-down, centralised re-structuring, the Bill – crucially – reinstates the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the provision of services, something the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) severed. The Bill would strip away the costly market mechanisms that waste NHS money which could be spent on patient care. Last weekend, delegates at the Green Party Conference overwhelmingly voted in favour of backing the Bill.
Caroline Lucas MP said: "We must stop our NHS being whittled down to little more than a corporate logo. The public service we love is being dismantled and defined by bidding wars and market structures that waste billions which could be spent on patient care. Our public health service should be run with patients, not profit, at its heart. Its rescue package must be rigorous and comprehensive to fully protect it from the private sector. I’m honoured to be presenting just such a Bill and with such strong cross-party support."
"The NHS is a core part of our national identity – but as things stand, it’s under immediate and growing threat. What the founders of our NHS achieved was radical and far-reaching – and we have a duty to ensure that reinstating their vision of the publicly provided NHS we still want is at the heart of our General Election debate." Ms Lucas added.