Labor's obsessive fears of privatizing the NHS blinded it to the real flaws in the health and social care bill | MCU Times

Labor’s obsessive fears of privatizing the NHS blinded it to the real flaws in the health and social care bill

The Tories are in a mess at the moment and are not living up to many of their biggest promises. Social care, rail upgrades and low taxes are all on the list of disappointments. But I bring you news of yet another failure that stretches back decades: they have still failed to fulfill their secret evil plan to privatize the NHS.

Labor and health advocates have been busy blaming the Conservative Party for this again this week during the joint debates on the Health and Care Act. To summarize, this very complex piece of legislation does a number of things, including creating 42 “Integrated Care Systems”. These new statutory bodies are responsible for planning, paying for and providing health and social care services. They bring together the organizations that provide care, such as general practitioners, hospitals, private companies and third sector organizations, with the trusts that commission them along with local authorities and other agencies in an area.

The accusation of the bill’s opponents is that it opens up the health service to even greater privatization. The reason they feel they can argue for this is that private companies will be able to have representatives in Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) if they run larger services in a local area. Thus, over the last few days, we have heard opposition MPs pepper their speeches criticizing the bill with the words “privatize the NHS”.

Labor’s Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders told the House that “there is a complete and utter incompatibility between the goals of private companies and what we say should be the goals of the NHS and the ICBs”. His more left-leaning comrades on the back table went on: Bell Ribeiro-Addy claimed it “rolls the red carpet out for private companies, increases the government’s long-standing attempt to privatize the NHS”; while Margaret Greenwood told MPs that “as we know, the bill is also about privatization”.

Except we do not know. This bill is not about privatization. It’s not even about that secret. The independent health thinkers who study it have made it very clear that in many ways it reduces competition in the health care system. The seats for private companies at the ICBs will be chosen by local NHS leaders, will lead to meetings held in public, and where decisions will be made that, by law, must preserve the NHS’s independence. Nuffield Trusts’ analysis asks, not unreasonably, for evidence that it is “more likely that a representative of a private provider will succeed in getting more money, rather than the representatives of NHS trusts or general practitioners?”

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If the Tories really wanted to privatize the NHS, do you think they would have done it by now. After all, Labor MPs have been making similar accusations about their motives for decades. Back in 1984, a man named Jeremy Corbyn told the House that “the government’s plans for privatization within the NHS go back some years”. His fears were not realized, but that did not stop Tony Blair from telling the Commons in 2000 that his job was to renew the NHS and “defeat the pessimists and privatists who would see it dismantled”. His health minister, John Reid, made similar noises in 2003 when he defended Labor’s flagship hospitals. Ironically, at the time, Reid was trying to defend the policy against members of his own side who claimed giving NHS trusts more independence would lead to, you guessed it, privatization.

The Tories have had control of the NHS for more years than Labor and yet have failed with this secret privatization agenda. Either they are even more incompetent than the current political mess suggests, or they actually do not think they can or should privatize the NHS.

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What is clear when looking back at the history of health care is that the Tories are just as obsessed with messing around with the reorganization of the NHS as Labor is. This health and care law changes the structures once again – but already now Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid are discussing plans for a new set of NHS reforms, partly designed to help tackle the backlog and also prevent the health service from swallowing all the collected money by the new health and social security tax. There is no doubt that when these reforms come in, they will lead Labor MPs to dig out the same dusty speeches that they have held for decades on privatization.

This is not a harmless obsession. The more time ministers are forced to spend time pointing out that they are not privatizing the NHS, the less time they spend under pressure due to the recent failure of the recent reorganization.

There are many problems with the current legislation. It will not solve the serious staff shortage. It can make the health minister unreasonably powerful. When health policy mistakes cost lives, it is strange that advocates are so focused on one that does not even exist.

Isabel Hardman is the assistant editor of ‘The Spectator’ magazine. She writes a monthly column on health policy for I

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