Labour Council refuses to take hard line on NHS privatisation

A Green Group motion to a full meeting of Oxford City Council condemning NHS privatisation was today watered-down by Labour Councillors removing reference to, amongst other things, support for the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

This Bill proposes, amongst other things, to reinstate in England the legal duty of the Secretary of State to provide the NHS, abolish competition in the provision of health services and restore public accountability.

The Bill is support by several MPs, many more prospective Parliamentary candidates from across the political spectrum, and organisations such as Keep Our NHS Public, the Medical Practitioners Union – Unite and the NHS Consultants’ Association.

Says City Green Group Leader, Cllr Sam Hollick, who proposed the motion; “It is extremely disappointing that the Labour-run City Council decided not to take a stronger line on protecting our National Health Service from damaging privatisation. The profit motive has no role to play in the delivery of  NHS services.”

In the debate, Cllr Hollick pointed to the recent example of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. This was one of the first hospitals to be privatised (under the previous Labour Government) but has recently been abandoned by the private firm that runs it. 

Closer to home, although the nature of many private contracts is considered ‘commercially confidential’, campaigners believe that the Oxford University Hospitals Trust is saddled with unnecessary private debt repayments of more than £20m per year leaving less money for frontline services. 

Notes

[1] More on the NHS Reinstatement Bill http://www.nhsbill2015.org/

[2] Original Green Group motion

Reversing NHS privatisation (Proposed by Councillor Hollick), Green Group

Council notes that at the start of this year the first private company to run a hospital walked away from its contract. This followed critical findings from the Care Quality Commission around inadequate standards for safety and patient care.

Council believes that this example clearly illustrates the dangers of privatisation in the NHS, and is concerned that uncertainty created by private providers could increase now that the Secretary of State’s duty to provide has been abolished by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Council welcomes the Private Member’s Bill from Clive Efford MP [1] as an attempt to tackle privatisation, but notes this Bill’s shortcomings - including the failure to re-establish the Secretary of State’s duty to provide the NHS. Council therefore resolves to:

(i) endorse the NHS Reinstatement Bill [2] which proposes to:

• reinstate in England the legal duty of the Secretary of State to provide the NHS

• abolish competition;

• abolish the purchaser-provider split;

• re-establish public bodies and public accountability; and

• restrict the role of commercial companies. 

(ii) call on the city’s two MPs to support the Bill to be introduced in the next parliament.

[3] Motion after being watered-down by Labour (replacement wording underlined)

Council notes that at the start of this year the first private company to run a hospital walked away from its contract. This followed critical findings from the Care Quality Commission around inadequate standards for safety and patient care.

Council believes that this example clearly illustrates the dangers of privatisation in the NHS, and is concerned that uncertainty created by private providers could increase now that the Secretary of State’s duty to provide has been abolished by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Council welcomes the Private Member’s Bill from Clive Efford MP.

Council believes that the last thing that our precious National Health Service needs is another top down reorganisation.

Council recognises the tremendous strain on staff in all parts of our health service at the moment in a climate of shortages of nurses and doctors at a time of increasing numbers of patients with more complex needs.

Council believes that we must preserve the values of our National Health Service for future generations and that we should listen to those currently working in the health service about the need for integration of health and social care services as well as the importance of public health.

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30742845

[5] From http://keepournhspublicoxfordshire.org.uk/pfi/pfi-in-oxford/

PFI projects in Oxford include the £20m Oxford Children’s Hospital and JR West Wing, the Oxford Cancer Centre, and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. The Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH) faces an annual bill of about £53m to fund repayments on the private loans taken out to pay for developments such as the Children’s Hospital and Oxford Cancer Centre.When the government borrows money to invest, it pays a very low interest rate. PFI repayments have high interest on their repayment, some around 10 per cent. The cost of the recent buildings on the Churchill and Nuffield sites was about £300 million. The estimated total repayment over 30 years will be about £1.2 billion. The interest payment will therefore total about £900 million. Even at a fairly high interest rate for a government body, interest would come to some £300 million over 30 years. This means that the additional (unnecessary) cost of the PFI is about £600 million or £20 million per year.The payments on the building cost are something like half the total PFI payment. The other payments are for outsourced services.In 2012 it was announced that Oxford hospitals had to make cuts in expenditure of £160 million over the next four years. But repayments on PFI contracts can not be cut; they are protected from the government’s plans to cut £2 billion from healthcare. The result is cuts in staff.


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