This article is by SLF Co-Chair Gareth Epps
*Update, 13.30 25/02/2013* Andrew George MP has a letter in the Guardian regarding this matter
Good news for Liberal Democrats wanting to see some opposition to the secondary legislation introduced on the quiet by Jeremy Hunt which would force doctors to open up almost all NHS services to private companies.
Adrian Sanders MP (Lib Dem, Torbay) directly challenged David Cameron on the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. He said that the regulations contradicted assurances given that the the Government would not privatise the NHS.
Health Select Committee MP Andrew George also says that the Health Secretary will have to withdraw the plans.
Andrew called on Secretary of State Hunt in Tuesday’s Health Questions to scrap his proposals and go back to the drawing board. He expects the Government to bow to Lib Dem pressure and withdraw the regulations, pending a redraft.
Meanwhile, leading Liberal Democrat campaigner against the NHS Bill, Dr Charles West, has joined forces with campaign group 38 Degrees to launch a major new petition against the changes which has already amassed almost 20,000 signatures.
Andrew commented: “It’s clear that Government plans would contradict previous Ministerial assurances that patients would come before profits. Although the last Labour Government paved the way for the marketisation of the NHS by clumsily rolling out the red carpet to private companies, Liberal Democrats must resist this Tory plan.”
Baroness Judith Jolly, Lords Co-Chair of the party’s Parliamentary Policy Committee of Health, has met with Earle Howe (Lords Health Minister) and raised similar concerns.
Back in the Commons, Andrew George has put down Early Day Motion 1122 calling on the Government to withdraw the regulation:
“That this House notes that the Government regulation implementing Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act contradicts previous Ministerial assurances that NHS commissioners should decide when and how competition should be used to serve patient interests; acknowledges that, although the last Labour Government rolled out the red carpet to private companies to make profits from NHS services, believes that patients come before profits in our NHS; and therefore calls on HM Government to withdraw SI 257, go back to the drawing board and draw up a policy which supports an integrated NHS which encourages collaboration in the interest of patient care rather than a fragmented service driven by profit.”
A full record of the exchange during Health Questions can be found at:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130226/debtext/130226-0001.htm#13022662000009.
The exchange between Adrian Sanders and David Cameron can be found on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21603653