Health and Care Bill 2021
The Health and Care Bill 2021 is due to be brought to the House of Commons on 22nd November 2021. This will cement many of the changes that have been going on behind the scenes, orchestrated by NHS England under the stewardship of Simon Stevens, who has recently become ‘Lord’ Stevens of Birmingham. Stevens is one of Boris Johnson’s old University chums and prior to his position as CEO of NHS England, Simon Stevens was president of United Health in the United States. He assumed his position as CEO in 2014 and has recently stepped down, having implemented the changes that have paved the way to privatisation, 90% of which has been implemented and the remaining part requiring the new Health and Care Bill. Lord Stevens of Birmingham will sit in prime position to ensure that the Health and Care Bill 2021 passes through The House of Lords.
Privatisation sneaking into the NHS is no new thing. It has been a project that started 40 years ago by Margaret Thatcher’s government and continued throughout the Blair years with PFI (private finance initiatives). These PFI schemes have saddled many trusts with crippling debts. The Health and Social Care Bill of 2012 set the scene for much of the privatisation that we see today. NHS Trusts are forced to tender and compete against private companies such as Virgin Care. The 2012 bill introduced ‘Sustainable Transformation Plans’ (STPs) and ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ (ACOs) which are structures that can be found in the US healthcare system (along with ‘Intergrated Care Organisations’ and Boards). Recently Richard Leese, former leader of Manchester City Council took up the position as Chair for the new Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board.
A key feature of these STPs, ACOs, ICMs (and whatever new acronyms are created next) is that private companies make up part of the organising boards, deciding upon where public money is allocated. They will decide what treatments are funded and more importantly those that are not funded by the ‘NHS’ and will firmly cement a co-payer system, highly likely requiring private health insurance. This will change the way in which the NHS operates from patient need being the focus to private profit becoming the focus. Even the co-payer parts of the US insurance system can be significantly costly that they have bankrupted many families in the US. There is no example of a private insurance system that will give cover to people who cannot afford to pay.
All of this is no coincidence, US healthcare companies (such as United Health) have been entering the UK market for healthcare for sometime now, taking over GP practices and training staff on how to implement the structures of their system. The legislation and changes inside the NHS (implemented by NHS England) have been designed to create a level of parity between the two systems enabling those US companies to seamlessly operate in the UK.
Campaign to scrap the bill
The mainstream media has been silent on this issue, it has been mentioned nowhere. Recently Unite the Union has launched a campaign (along with We Own it, Keep Our NHS Public and other groups against this privatisation) to scrap the bill. It is being heralded as another example of Tory Sleaze after a week in which Tory corruption has been thrust into the limelight.
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and Richard Burgon MP are supporting this campaign on social media. There will be a lobby of Parliament at 17:00 on 22nd November 2021.
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