Health and Care Bill – key points and questions ahead of 14 July second reading

Ahead of the 2nd reading of the Health and Care Bill tomorrow, these are key points and questions from Newcastle University Clinical Professor of Public Health, Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick, Principal Research Associate at the Population Health Sciences Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University.

The Health and Care Bill which was introduced in the House of Commons on 6 July 2021 is a major reorganisation of the NHS in England which will complete the dismantling of it as a universal, comprehensive, publicly funded and provided service free at the point of delivery. It is an astonishing attempt to allow the Secretary of State, an enlarged NHS England as ‘rule-maker and regulator’, and new public-private ‘Integrated Care Boards’(ICBs), to reduce services, limit expenditure, further degrade local accountability and entrench (and deregulate) the market.

You can download the Key points and questions here.

Please make sure your MP knows about them and is prepared to ask the government to answer them at the Second Reading

Here is where you can find who your MP is and how to contact them: https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons.

I asked my MP Craig Whittaker to please get answers to these key points at Health and Care Bill second reading 14th July:

Dear Craig Whittaker,

Following on from my email to you yesterday asking you to oppose the Health and Care Bill in the House of Commons tomorrow, 14th July, attached is a list of key points and questions about the Bill from Newcastle University Clinical Professor of Public Health, Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick , Principal Research Associate at the Population Health Sciences Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University.

Please will you get some answers to them in the Health and Care Bill Second Reading debate tomorrow?

email to Craig Whittaker MP

Post-second reading update

There was not a peep out of Craig Whittaker during the debate – although to be fair there were many more MPs who put their names down to speak than got the chance to do so, because of the tight time limit on the debate. Maybe he was one of them?

(Why did the government not schedule a longer debate? This is the most important proposed legislation for probably the most important public institution in England. All MPs who wanted to should have had the chance to stand up for their constituents’ interests in the debate.)

Craig Whittaker MP voted AGAINST the Labour amendment to decline the second reading and FOR approving the second reading.

Craig Whittaker’s reply: I have taken this up with the Secretary of State

I have taken this up with the Secretary of State, and I am currently awaiting his response. As soon as I find myself in receipt of said response, I will be sure to pass it onto you for your perusal.

email from Craig Whittaker’s office, 15 July 2021

The Sec of State and Health Minister didn’t answer MPs who raised some of these key questions in the second reading debate

During the debate, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, asked about 2 of the biggest shockers in the Health and Care Bill, identified in Allyson Pollock’s and Peter Roderick’s key points and questions (linked to above). These are:

  • In handing commissioning from Clinical Commissioning Groups to Integrated Care Boards, it removes the 2006 NHS Act s 3 requirement to commission (arrange for the provision of) hospital medical services and ophthalmic services. (Health and Care Bill Part 1, 15.1 and Schedule 3, para 3, new section 82B)
  • And it speaks mysteriously of Integrated Care Board’s “core responsiblities” for the people it covers, (with the implicit suggestion that these responsibilities are limited). Further, it says that NHS England may regulate to exclude certain unspecified people from being covered by the Integrated Care Boards, meaning these people will have no right of access to NHS treatments. (Health and Care Bill Part 1, 15.2-3)

Here’s what Debbie Abrahams said in the House of Commons about these two dreadful bits of the Health and Care Bill, that would deprive us of the certainty of NHS hospital medical services and opthalmic services, and would also deprive us of the certainty that we will be able to access ANY NHS services:

“Under the Bill, ICBs will have only a “core responsibility” for a “group of people”, in accordance with enrolment rules made by NHS England. There are concerns that this evokes the US definition of a health maintenance organisation, which provides ‘basic and supplemental health services to its members’.

“What is included in the core responsibilities?

“Why is there no longer a duty but only a power for ICBs to provide hospital services? What does that mean for the thousands waiting for elective surgery? What about those waiting for cancer and other therapies? For those who say, “What does it matter who provides our healthcare as long as it meets the NHS principles of being universal, comprehensive and free at the point of need?” I say that not only is the Bill a clear risk to those founding NHS principles but there is strong evidence that equity in access to healthcare, equity in health outcomes and healthcare quality are all compromised in health systems that are either privatised or marketised, as the NHS has increasingly become.”

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-14/debates/1D1681AB-44CE-4A29-B53F-8DE60AB077C8/HealthAndCareBill#contribution-78CA2473-BF73-4D8B-84D4-7903954F1E0C

Health Minister Edward Argar did the government’s winding up response to the debate. It was largely waffle. He was very selective about which MPs’ points he responded to and DID NOT answer the key questions raised by Debbie Abrahams MP.

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