The Labour Party is putting forward a Bill this week which aims to remove the compulsion for NHS commissioners to put services out to competitive tender, it has announced.
The party said it will back a private member’s Bill from Clive Efford, the Labour MP for Eltham, which will repeal the ‘damaging’ competition rules that were ‘inflicted’ on the NHS via the Health and Social Care Act.
The Bill, which Mr Efford said he was putting forward to address his constituents’ concerns over NHS ‘privatisation’, will focus on repealing section 75 of the Act – which places oa duty on commissioners to put services out to tender unless they can prove their is only one potential provider – as well as the competition framework which established Monitor as a regulator of competition in the NHS.
The Labour Party said the Bill would ‘rewrite the rules that force market tendering of services and that are seeing millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers that should instead be spent on patients’.
The Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons in November, with Labour planning to lobby MPs from all parties for support between now and then by ‘highlighting examples of how the current rules are wasting money and fragmenting care’.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘David Cameron’s biggest mistake by far is his decision to break the Coalition Agreement promise of “no top-down re-organisation of the NHS”. He is the prime minister who put the NHS up for sale without first seeking the permission of the British public.’
‘David Cameron’s re-organisation has left the NHS, in the words of its former chief executive, “bogged down in a morass of competition law”. If we leave things as they are, the NHS as we have known it for 66 years will not survive. This Bill will free the NHS from that morass and restore the right values to its heart: collaboration over competition; people before profits.’
Mr Efford said: ‘I am introducing this Bill because we need to save the NHS. When out and about meeting my constituents time and again they tell me how worried they are about the privatisation of our NHS.’
‘And of course my constituents are right to be worried because our NHS – the service which is there for us from when we enter the world to when we come to leave it is being shamelessly dismantled before our eyes. Quite simply private profits for the 1% are being put before an integrated health care system, safe clinical decisions and ultimately patients’ needs.’
‘That is why I am introducing my Bill to ensure how best to meet patients’ needs is once again placed at the forefront of our system, because without our health we have nothing.’