West Yorkshire constituents are angry that many MPs have ignored or refused their calls to vote against the contentious Health and Care Bill at its third reading today (November 23rd).
Here’s the record of how MPs voted. (294 in favour, 244 against).
Hundreds of people in at least 19 West Yorkshire constituencies have written to their MPs, enclosing handkerchiefs they’ve embroidered with the message “Don’t Blow it! Kill the Health and Care Bill before it kills us”.
They’ve warned MPs that the Bill will:
- restrict patients’ access to NHS care
- create unsafe working conditions for NHS staff
- only benefit big business
- do nothing to fix the staff and bed capacity crisis in the NHS
They say none of the Bill’s amendments since its second reading in the House of Commons in July this year, make it fit for the 21st century NHS.
Jenny Shepherd, a member of Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, which campaigns to protect NHS services from cuts and privatisation, said,
“This message “Kill the Health and Care Bill before it kills us!” may sound dramatic. But people are already dying because the NHS is at the point of collapse after 10 years of underfunding, massive hospital bed cuts, and failure to retain doctors and nurses who have burnt out trying to do their jobs in impossible conditions.
“Covid-19 has made this worse, but it didn’t cause it.”
Chrissie Parker, from Colne Valley, said,
“The government itself says the Bill is just providing a legal basis for changes that have already been put in place. It will make things worse, not better.
“But my MP Jason McCartney has accused us of ‘being misled’. He’s brushed aside the sound reasons why 100 constituents have asked him to vote against the Health and Care Bill at its third reading, and he’s told me he’s still happy to vote for it.”
Kate Tunstall, a Dewsbury constituent who embroidered a personalised “Kill the Health and Care Bill” hankie for her MP Mark Eastwood, said,
“I am sure this issue must be close to Mark Eastwood’s heart as his mother worked in the NHS and he will empathise with pressures put upon staff.
“I asked to speak to him about this, and explain that the 90 or so Dewsbury constituents who signed the letter also care about what the Health and Care Bill will do to NHS staff who are already burnt out and struggling.
“But when we visited his constituency office to give him the hankie, his constituency office assistant told us over the intercom they were all in a meeting and wouldn’t come to the door.
“Mark Eastwood has emailed that he will vote for the Bill on 23rd November.
“I doubt his constituents will forget this at the next General Election.”
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker MP was out on constituency business when Jenny Shepherd dropped off the Don’t Blow It! handkerchief at his office. Jenny said,
“His constituency assistant, Cllr Howard Blagborough, invited me in, accepted the handkerchief and told me our MP has to vote with the government because he’s a whip, but at least this means he has better access to Ministers to pass on constituents’ concerns.
“But Craig Whittaker has already sent the Health Minister Edward Argar a question on my behalf. The Health Minister’s response was rubbish. Surely the government must realise they need to listen to people’s legitimate concerns, particularly in marginal and red wall seats.”
Labour MPs have not committed to vote against the Bill at the third reading.
Update: in the event, Barry Sheerman did not vote. We think this is because he was self-isolating as a contact of someone with Covid 19. Holly Lynch and Kim Leadbeater voted against.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman did not reply to his constituents’ letter but he told Chrissie Parker, who ran into him at a COP26 action rally, that he would vote as instructed by the Labour Whip.
Halifax MP Holly Lynch has written to constituents that she voted against the Bill at its second reading in July – without committing to voting against it at the third reading.
Peter Claydon, a long-time member of North Kirklees Support the NHS and a Batley and Spen constituent, said,
“Kim Leadbeater’s reply was the same standard Labour Party reply to constituents who’ve asked their MPs about the Health and Care Bill.
“It’s not enough that she voted against the Bill at its second reading in the summer.
“We need her to vote against it at the third reading too. Because even with its amendments, it’s not fit for the 21st century NHS.
“For a decade and more I’ve been watching with increasing despair the impact of shortfalls in funding and staffing on the delivery of services in North Kirklees – as well as the top-down reorganisations rolled out since 2010.
“Mid Yorks Trust hospital services have been cut and centralised. Dewsbury Hospital’s been downgraded to a planned care hospital with an urgent care centre.
“This has turned out badly. Pinderfields Hospital has been overwhelmed as ‘Care Closer to Home’ has failed to reduce unplanned hospital attendance and admissions.
“These cuts imposed ‘new models of care’, based on the American Medicare model of limited publicly funded/privately provided insurance-based healthcare.
“Now the Health and Care Bill is driving us closer towards this nonsense. I and my fellow friends believe that it’s time to rediscover the vision of the NHS’s founding fathers.
“We want to know that our MP shares that vision.”
Across England, over 400 MPs from all the mainstream political parties have also received the same open letter from constituents.
As public concern has mounted over the damage to the NHS that the Health and Care Bill would create, a new national campaign fronted by Stephen Fry has launched to stop the Health Bill and renationalise the NHS.
Your NHS Needs You have called for Labour leadership clarity about the vote at the Health and Care Bill’s third reading.