Thank you to all who have supported the campaign to reinstate the NHS through legislation over the last few years.

Thank you to all who have supported the campaign to reinstate the NHS through legislation over the last few years.

On Wednesday 11 July, Eleanor Smith Labour MP for Wolverhampton SW presented her National Health Service Bill in the Commons under the ’10-minute rule’. Campaigners gathered outside Parliament in support of the bill’s public service principles.

The long title (the description) of Eleanor Smith’s bill was in accord with the NHS Reinstatement Bill. The bill’s short title was The National Health Service Bill. The full text will not be known until it is published. In her speech Eleanor Smith said, “The Bill has been created with the Labour Front-Bench leadership team and we will continue to work together on its future development with campaigners, unions, professionals and stakeholders.”

The NHS Reinstatement Bill cannot circumvent Labour’s procedures. Professor Allyson Pollock & Peter Roderick, the Reinstatement Bill’s authors, will not be the authors of this Labour Bill. But they will continue discussions with Eleanor and the Labour party with a view to the party producing a Bill that is as close as possible to the Reinstatement Bill . The Bill Group will be paying close attention to the content of Labour’s bill  – if and when the full text emerges – to ensure it remains true to the principles of a public service NHS.

The Reinstatement Bill itself will not be affected by the Labour Party’s processes. The campaign has always been supported by people who are members of various political parties as well as those who have no party affiliations. NHS Bill Now are especially grateful to Caroline Lucas MP (Green) and Margaret Greenwood MP (Labour) who have previously put the Bill forward in parliament and to the SNP, with special mention to Dr Philippa Whitford MP, who were early supporters.

Many thanks once again from the Bill Group Team. We hope that you will continue to support our campaign for the reinstatement of the NHS as a wholly public service based on Bevan’s principles, not commercial ones.


Eleanor Smith will table a 10-Minute Rule Bill for the NHS

Statement from the NHS Bill Now Campaign

We are pleased to hear that Eleanor Smith MP will now be tabling a 10-Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons on 11 July 2018 to reinstate the NHS in England.

We understand that the Bill will be a Labour Party Bill based on the NHS Reinstatement Bill and We Own It’s #NHSTakeBack pledges.

Next week we will be publishing the version of the proposed Reinstatement Bill that we have provided to Eleanor Smith once we have completed the explanatory notes.


Labour commits to legislation to reinstate the NHS

Campaigners are set to play a leading role in shaping Labour legislation to reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and end the fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS.

That was the positive outcome of a constructive meeting called in Westminster by Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP earlier today (June 27).

The meeting brought together representatives and advisors from the shadow health team and Labour Leader’s office and health policy advisors, along with Eleanor Smith MP who had planned to move the NHS Reinstatement Bill as a 10 minute Bill on July 11, Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick – the authors of the Bill, the Socialist Health Association, Health Campaigns Together, and Keep Our NHS Public.

It was called as an urgent response to the decision last week by the Labour whips’ office not to support Eleanor Smith’s Bill for parliamentary procedural reasons, and to address the subsequent criticism and fears expressed by campaigners in social media that this decision represented a retreat by the Labour leadership from a full commitment to end privatisation in the NHS, reverse the 2012 Act and reinstate the NHS.

Jonathan Ashworth underlined his support for the underlying principles of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, and also stressed the Parliamentary Labour Party’s record of implementing the various commitments for campaigning as set out in last year’s Labour Conference Composite motion 8. He explained that his intention in calling the meeting had been to find ways in which legislation, which all can support, could be developed through a process of collaboration and consultation.

Campaigners were repeatedly assured that Labour’s leadership is committed to proposing its own Bill in the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government that would embody the principles of the NHS Reinstatement Bill. The explanation of the decision to pull support from Eleanor Smith’s Bill was that the level of detail that it included is too great for tabling at this stage as a 10 minute Bill, with some of it potentially controversial within the Party. In particular significant debates need to be had on how Labour wishes to address the crisis of the heavily privatised social care system currently run through local government, and whether the NHS or local government should take charge of public health.

It was agreed that while this work needed to be done, in the short term, as Eleanor Smith and others argued strongly, a declaration of intent and principle is needed from Labour in this 70th anniversary year of the NHS.

With this in mind the meeting agreed:

  • Jonathan Ashworth and Eleanor Smith would publicly sign up to show their support for the ‘NHS Takeback’ pledges, based on the Reinstatement Bill, that is promoted by the We Own It campaign https://weownit.org.uk/nhstakeback.
  • Labour will seek the earliest opportunity – if possible before the summer recess – to table a shorter version of the Reinstatement Bill as a 10 minute Bill, to be moved by Eleanor Smith. This would echo the Takeback pledges and the NHS Reinstatement Bill as previously tabled.
  • Further detailed meetings will take place beginning immediately – between the Leader’s office, the shadow health team and the drafters of the Reinstatement Bill, but also on a wider level to draw in and engage with campaigners, trade unions and other significant stakeholders – to draw up more detailed Labour legislation based on the Reinstatement Bill. Meetings will also take place with other committees as appropriate with the aim of developing an agreed draft Bill by the end of 2018 suitable for inclusion in a Queen’s Speech.
  • Campaigners will continue to work with and advise Jon Ashworth and the shadow health team in responding to any NHS England proposals for new legislation or amendments to the Health & Social Care Act that might be tabled by the current government. Joint efforts to expose and challenge privatisation and encourage those such as the Wigan strikers who are actively fighting it will continue.

The unique and historic nature of this meeting and these agreed proposals was stressed by Jonathan Ashworth and recognised by the meeting. This unprecedented level of collaboration is a result of years of hard work on the ground by campaigners.

The result will be a stronger and broader campaign in Parliament and across the country for legislation that will restore and improve the NHS as a publicly owned, publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable service.


Statement from Eleanor Smith MP on the withdrawal of the Bill reading

Statement from Eleanor Smith, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West:

“Following the withdrawal of the NHS Bill on Wednesday I have now received clarification from the Health Policy team as to where the resistance to the Bill came from.

In view of this I want to reassure supporters of the Bill that the main thrust of its content will be maintained; we are going to try and work through and resolve the issues; meetings are being arranged for next week- and I expect to be invited to take part in them.

I know that passions are running high, and no-one is more disappointed than I am but please can I ask supporters to keep their passion but also remain patient.

The fact is, in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS, we desperately need a Bill that we can all support and rally behind. We must preserve the NHS before it is completely destroyed by this Tory government.”


Campaign update for the NHS Bill 11 July reading

The best birthday present the NHS could have had this year is the NHS Bill, written by Professor Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick, to restore it to a full public service, after 30 years of incremental steps to privatisation.

The NHS Reinstatement Bill Group were expecting Eleanor Smith, MP for Wolverhampton South West to table the Bill in the House of Commons on 11th July 2018. Eleanor Smith, an NHS nurse for 40 years before she became an MP in 2017, is passionate about this issue.

Yesterday morning she informed us that this will not now happen. We understand that this was the result of the shadow health team vetoing it.

Chair of the Group and co-author of the Bill, Professor Allyson Pollock said:

“We are deeply disappointed and somewhat shocked that the shadow health team is not backing the bill. It was voted for unanimously as policy by Labour Conference in 2017 and has been supported for a number of years by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. The Health Select Committee has suggested that primary legislation is needed for the NHS, so surely this is the moment for Labour to be championing a public service bill. Otherwise we are at risk of government legislation bringing in the US-style organisational structure of Integrated Care, which NHS campaigners are vigorously opposing.”

 


Campaigners have won an important concession: a national public consultation on ACOs

Positive news from Peter Roderick, co-author of the NHS Bill and campaigner with #JR4NHS:

“Thanks to the fantastic, far-reaching and committed campaign involving thousands of people, and our brilliant legal team, the government and NHS England have now accepted that there must be a national public consultation on ACOs, and that no ACO contract will be signed until that’s happened. This is great news, and a clear concession in response to our seeking a judicial review.

NHS England’s lawyers promised this to our lawyers on Monday evening, and Jeremy Hunt confirmed this at the Health Select Committee yesterday.

But don’t be fooled into thinking they’ve given up. Despite repeated questioning from Sarah Wollaston MP, the Committee chair, Hunt refused to delay the ACO regulations that he’s still planning for February, which are intended to facilitate the ACO contract – even though there’s no longer an urgent need for them – and he has still not accepted the need for an Act of Parliament before ACOs can operate lawfully.

This is very important because the government has said they will change the definition of ACOs with input from NHS England, but we have absolutely no idea what the new definition will be.

We still remain very concerned about the lack of transparency and the need for primary legislation on ACOs, and so we have told the court this afternoon that we want to press ahead with these points.

Private companies lack transparency and accountability, the opposite of what we want for our public NHS.

This is why we want to make absolutely sure of the definition of “Accountable Care Organisations” in any consultation. We think there is no point in a consultation if the ACOs they consult on are unlawful.

We have been told by the court that we can expect a decision on permission tomorrow, or very early next week.

Thanks once again for all your incredible support.

Peter

PS. You can watch Jeremy Hunt giving evidence about ACOs to the Health Select Committee yesterday from about 16.50 in this video – near the end:
http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/70452f3d-4f8b-4db0-9177-fd8e7fda9343

You can also read the letters between him and Sarah Wollaston MP here:
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/Health/Correspondence/2017-19/Correspondence-with-the-Secretary-of%20State-regarding-Accountable-Care-Organisations.pdf


BMA position on NHS Reinstatement Bill

Below is BMA position on the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

It is taken from a report that looked both at the proposed NHS Reinstatement Bill, and also the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill (also known at the ‘Efford’ Bill), that was put forward by Labour MP Clive Efford in 2014 but was filibustered out in committee prior to the 2015 General Election.

Summary

The BMA has strong policy in nine areas of particular relevance to the issues covered by one or other or by both Bills:

i. Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012,
ii. Restore the Secretary of State’s duty to provide,
iii. Limit the Secretary of State’s powers over operational matters and day-to-day running of the health service,
iv. End the purchaser-provider split, the internal and external market and competition,
v. End PFI,
vi. exempt the NHS from TTIP,
vii. Oppose a charging system for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants,
viii. Ensure public accountability, and
ix. Support national terms and conditions of service.

We consider that these areas of policy are the clearest and simplest way of framing the TFG’s work. We therefore adopt this approach below.

(a) and (b) Repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and restore the Secretary of State’s duty to provide

Neither Bill repeals the 2012 Act as such. Both Bills repeal some of it. The Reinstatement Bill repeals more of it than the Amended Duties Bill.

As regards restoration of the duty to provide, paragraphs 15-19 of the final report are almost entirely accurate.

Restoration of the SoS’s duties to provide or secure provision (Clause 1) and to provide listed services throughout England (Clause 3) only appears in the Reinstatement Bill, both of which are in line with BMA policies. Unfortunately, only restoration of the latter duty is recognised in the final report as
being in line with BMA policies.

(c) Limit the Secretary of State’s powers over operational matters and day-to-day running of the health service

The Reinstatement Bill limits the Secretary of State’s powers over operational matters and day-to-day running of the health service by imposing restrictions on the power of issuing directions, based on the general duty of autonomy in the 2012 Act which the Bill would repeal. The Amended Duties Bill does not include express restrictions on the power to issue directions, and does not repeal the duty of autonomy.

Paragraphs 20-26 are incoherent and contain several inaccuracies. They appear to be seeking to fabricate a pretended conflict between BMA policies to restore the duty to provide – the legal foundation of the NHS since 1946 – and generalised ‘political interference policies’ which are not described or synthesised to help the reader understand what they actually say. The text of the relevant policies are more nuanced and specific, namely: they recognise damaging short-term political initiatives, believe that ministers should set policy and not control operational matters; and state that the NHS is far too important to be left in the hands of the politicians (both 2005, PB page 245); and propose an independent board for NHS management with a long-term strategy free of party political interference (2008, page 244).

The legal duty to provide is a quite separate matter from damaging short-term political initiatives, control of operational matters and management, and the desirability of a long-term strategy (which we support).

(d) End the purchaser-provider split, the internal and external market and competition

The BMA has clear, strong and reiterated policies over several years opposing the purchaser-provider split, the internal market and commercialisation. In 2011 it called for market-based policies to be abandoned, and in 2013 called on the BMA to defend the NHS. Some of these policies are accurately identified and synthesised in paragraph 28 of the final report.

The Reinstatement Bill abolishes the purchaser-provider split and is in line with these strong and reiterated policies opposing the market, competition and commercialisation.

The Amended Duties Bill does not abolish the purchaser-provider split, and extends NHS contracts to private providers (Clause 6(5)) but the final report does not mention this. It does abolish the 2012 Act’s main competition provisions,

As stated above, however, rather than evaluating the consistency and strength of BMA policies against the internal and external market, and noting the clear difference between the two Bills, the final report sets up another pretended conflict between these policies, and concerns about the potential
disruption from structural changes – and then fails to mention the provisions in the second version of the Reinstatement Bill which set out a flexible approach and timescale to bottom-up implementation led by local authorities working with current bodies to design the new structures. The TFG should be championing BMA policies against the market loudly and clearly.

(e) End PFI

Seven strong and clear policies opposing PFI have been identified. Most recently in 2014, the ARM demanded legislation to rescind all NHS PFI debt and demanded that government does not enter into any new PFI scheme. The Reinstatement Bill would centralize PFI debts in the Treasury and require the Treasury to report to Parliament on its proposals for reducing them.

(f) Exempt the NHS from TTIP

In 2014, the ARM demanded that the NHS is exempted from TTIP, believing that the treaty will tip the balance of power further towards private corporations and away from the public sector. Both Bills are in line with this policy.

However, it is not accurate to state in paragraph 92 that the Amended Duties Bill specifically exempts the NHS from TTIP – Clause 14(1) only applies to procurement and competition obligations, and so would not extend, for example, to dispute-settlement procedures or advance notice to the US
government of proposed regulatory measures.

Neither is it accurate to state paragraph 94 that the Reinstatement Bill seeks to require parliamentary approval of any international treaty that has an impact on the NHS in terms of procurement or competition regulations – its impacts are not so limited.

TTIP is subject to the EU common commercial policy, and the UK does not currently have formal legal competence in this regard.

(g) Oppose a charging system for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants

We agree with paragraphs 107 and 108 of the final report on this matter: the Amended Duties Bill is silent on this issue, and the Reinstatement Bill is in line with BMA policy opposing a charging system for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.

(h) Ensure public accountability

The BMA has policy in support of the public accountability of senior executives in the NHS and of the health service as a whole; neither Bill focuses on this explicitly. The Reinstatement Bill addresses this in clause 17 by re-establishing CHCs, with the purpose of representing the interests of the public within the health service.

(j) Support national terms and conditions of service

Unfortunately BMA policies on this vitally important issue were not synthesised and added to the final report. It is important that any statutory provision relating to that matter furthers BMA policies, the Reinstatement Bill does this clearly, but this matter has been blown up out of all proportion in the summary in an attempt to undermine the Reinstatement Bill. A constructive approach would be for BMA council to specify clearly the legal provisions it wishes to see on terms and conditions of service.

 


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