I propose that backing is given to the NHS Bill 2016-2017. This is in order to rid the NHS in England of the pernicious effects of the ideologically driven internal market and the consequent drive to franchise out provision of key services to private providers
The NHS has at present many challenges. It is in a state of constant reorganisation and many parts of the NHS are subject to internal and external competition. This leads to uncertainty and low morale amongst staff. This is exacerbated by wage caps and overwork.
The devolvement of functions from government to NHS England, Monitor and CCGs has removed the accountability of publicly elected officials. Public accountability has been further undermined by the secrecy surrounding the contractual terms by which NHS England franchises out provision of services to public providers.
This is done via competition processes that, at very conservative estimates by reputable academics, cost £4.5 Bn per annum in 2014 ( At what cost? paying the price for the market in the English NHS, Calum Paton, Centre for Health and the Public Interest).
The one thing the NHS cannot afford is waste on this extravagant scale.
A pernicious effect of the constrained funding environment coupled with the costs of the internal market that the NHS is experiencing is the gradual withdrawal of publicly-provided services by CCGs. In England, the only service that must be provided by a CCG is A&E, according to the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and associated statutory instruments. The CCGs do continue to provide a range of services free at the point of provision. Unfortunately, the list of services provided is shortening, as CCGs must balance their budgets and their fuds do not increase in line with inflation. This removal of services is not a good thing for the general public.
The public and Parliament have no redress, as the powers of the Secretary of State for Health have been deliberately curtailed so that he must only facilitate health care provision by NHS England (whatever that means) rather than be responsible for the provision of treatments in England via the NHS. Prior to the 2012 Health and Social Care Act the Secretary of State for Health was responsible for the provision of treatment in an extensive list of medical areas.
Accordingly, I propose that the measures put forward in the cross party NHS Bill 2016-2017 by Margaret Greenwood (MP for Wirral West and Shadow Minister for Work and pensions) be adopted as party policy by the LPF and put forward to the 2017 Conference for ratification as policy.
The bill will ameliorate some of the current problems the NHS faces, by abolishing the internal market together with NHS England and Monitor, reintroducing the strategic and regional planning functions vital in an organisation the size of the NHS and reintroducing the obligation of the Secretary of State for Health to ensure provision of treatments and solutions in all major areas of health and social care. This latter move is vital, as then Govermnemts will be obliged to fund the NHS in line with its needs and those needs can be debated and agreed in Parliament.
An increase in funding for the NHS across the UK is vital in order to ensure its continued existence, but the avoidance of the waste and service duplication that the internal market brings will certainly help with this. The reintroduction of sensible central resource planning and resource allocation is also vital, as in any large organisation.