- Today (23rd March 2022) is the House of Lords 3rd Reading of the Health and Care Bill, which Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS has campaigned to scrap since it was first published.
- Despite many peers’ well argued and principled opposition to the Health and Care Bill in the House of Lords, which has led to the House of Lords defeating the government on around 14 amendments during the recent Report stage, the Bill is still not in the interests of the public or, indeed of the NHS itself as a comprehensive, universal public service.
- Last night we sent some peers an urgent last minute request that at the 3rd Reading tomorrow, they consider proposing a Reasoned Amendment to the Health and Care Bill, that would call for the House of Lords to completely reject the Bill.
The Labour opposition presented such a Reasoned Amendment at the House of Commons Second Reading (scroll down to 4.25pm, Jonathan Ashworth) , so presumably Labour Lords would also support a Reasoned Amendment to decline to give a Third Reading to the Health and Care Bill.
In particular, our concerns are that
- The NHS must be comprehensive, universal, free at the point of use and based on meeting patients’ clinical needs – not on the statutory Integrated Care Board’s financial considerations.
- The NHS must be safely staffed in all service areas, employing all frontline and clinical staff on the basis of national terms and conditions, as in Agenda for Change. All NHS professions must be regulated. Further, the Integrated Care Systems must not require “passporting” of staff between places of work where they will have to work with unfamiliar teams. And will not subject staff to further moral injury such as they suffered during successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The NHS must make sure that primary care providers are treated in the same way as NHS Trusts, in the preparation of statutory Integrated Care Board five-year work plans and their capital plans. And make sure there is continuity of patient care in GP practices.
- The NHS must halt and reverse NHS privatisation. Specifically by statutory IC Boards (and any of its delegated committees with commissioning powers and functions) making the NHS the preferred provider when awarding contracts. And by banning from membership of the statutory IC Board ((and any of its delegated committees with commissioning powers and functions) anyone employed by or a member of a private company, APMS GP contract holder, or third sector company or charity.
Details of what statutory Integrated Care Board constitutions would have to specify in order to guarantee these conditions are laid out here.
None of the House of Lords amendments that have defeated the government is sufficient to deal with these concerns.
This is clearly shown by the attached 15 March analysis of the fate of amendments presented by members of the House of Lords, by Greg Dropkin of Keep Our NHS Public, and his 17 March update that identifies another 4 defeats for the government in the House of Lords.
In addition, as of 17 March 2022, there were another 4 defeats for the government (adding up to 14 in all) in the House of Lords, though sadly Baroness Chakrabarti’s amendment 174 (Global health emergency international cooperation) was defeated, and it looks like Labour didn’t turn out to vote for it.
The additional 4 amendments passed despite government opposition have nothing to do with concerns about how the Health and Care Bill is set to fragment the NHS into 42 regional health services, that is not in the interest of the public or the NHS itself. These 4 amendments are:
- https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3022/stages/16122/amendments/91145 (Requirement for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to carry out a consultation about a statutory scheme for the regulation of prices and profits of tobacco manufacturers and importers. Funds raised by the scheme would be used to pay for the cost of tobacco control measures to deliver the Government’s ultimatum for industry to make smoked tobacco obsolete by 2030 and for England to be smoke-free with smoking rates 5% or below.)
- https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3022/stages/16122/amendments/91181 (To ensure that in relation to organ tourism outside the UK, there must be informed consent with no coercion or financial gain for the donation of organs. Thus prohibiting organ tourism which involves either forced organ harvesting or black market organ trafficking.)
- https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3022/stages/16122/amendments/91480 (Aims to ensure that disputes between parents and doctors about children’s palliative care will be able to engage effective mediation.
- https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3022/stages/16122/amendments/91637 (About permitted locations for abortion treatment)
The Parliament website explains that:
“Unlike the House of Commons, amendments can be made at third reading in the House of Lords, provided the issue has not been fully considered and voted on during either committee or report stage.
“Amendments at third reading are often used to clarify specific parts of the Bill and to allow the government to make good any promises of changes they made at earlier stages of the passage of a Bill.”
We can’t find a timed schedule for House of Lords Business today, but the listing shows that the House of Lords starts work at 3pm with 4 oral questions about various issues, followed by a statement about compensation for the wrongly convicted 555 sub postmasters and then the Health and Care Bill Third Reading.