Privatisation of NHS Services DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Andrew SelousMain Page: Andrew Selous (Conservative - South West Bedfordshire)
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I cannot disagree with such a well made point.
The impact of austerity has been a double-edged sword, according to the union Unison. On one hand, less money can be made from the NHS, so some firms have shrunk away. On the other hand, the NHS has opted increasingly for short-term fixes as it struggles with insufficient funding, and that has created opportunities for the private sector. For example, the Carter review includes the threat that hospitals that cannot make sufficient savings in their support services or pathology functions might have to use outsourcing instead. Most recently, the development of wholly owned subsidiary companies has brought a whole new set of fears for the NHS, and for health staff in particular.
The old fears from the 1980s and 1990s are beginning to resurface. When we add social care into the mix, those fears multiply. The NHS is one of our proudest achievements, and we need to protect it, not privatise it. To do so, we need to revoke section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act.
Equally, I have some information that was released to The Independent under a freedom of information request, which states that the Royal Marsden in London had an income from private patients in 2010-11 of £44.7 million. By 2016-17, that had risen to a massive £91.9 million—a rise of almost 105%. That clearly demonstrates that there has been a considerable rise in the private income of that world-leading NHS hospital.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mike Hill) for introducing the petition and the petitioners for instigating a very worthwhile debate.
I will speak briefly, because I know that many Members want to speak, about fragmentation, accountability, privatisation, and how the NHS in Lancashire is going backwards. We will hear from across the United Kingdom —or certainly England—about the fragmentation of the NHS. It is not providing the services that patients expect.
The Health and Social Care Act was introduced in 2012. It was a top-down reorganisation, although it was promised that it would not be, that cost £3 billion and has caused chaos in Lancashire. That was a promise made by David Cameron that he broke. It has fragmented the NHS: we have lost accountability, we have opened the door to privatisation and we have reintroduced the purchaser-provider competition, which has been mentioned. In the 1990s, that was implemented in social care—it failed, and there was a U-turn.
In Lancashire, we have the high-profile case of Virgin Care’s £104 million contract signed by the Conservative Lancashire County Council, which has been blocked by a High Court judge for reasons of “considerable cost and disruption.” We are seeing the fragmentation of our NHS through the desire to privatise and move towards the purchaser-provider model. There has also been the removal of the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust from Calderstones. The trust has been involved in taking up contracts and being relieved of contracts. The Walton jail mental health service unit is in crisis. It is an important service because we are trying to tackle the issue of mental ill health, yet there is a significant problem at Walton jail. Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust picked up the contract from somebody else, but it is struggling; it is underfunded, and the provider keeps changing. That fragmentation is having an impact on those who require these services.
At Calderstones, there was a very large mental health unit on the fringes of my constituency—in fact, it was just inside the constituency of the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans). The unit was rebuilt in 2007, costing £11 million, to provide a cutting-edge mental health service. It was rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, but it was closed in 2016. How can the £11 million Calderstones unit, which was rated good and moving towards outstanding, be closed in this age and only nine years after that refurbishment? Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust itself will cease to exist, to be replaced by the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, which will provide services. One service provider is being swapped for another. We are not getting continuity, and there are problems in NHS services, particularly mental health services, in my area.
The public want to say no to the Health and Social Care Act—they do not like these changes. GPs were told that they would hold budgets; I will come to that, but first I want to talk briefly about STPs. Again, there is little democratic involvement; the changes are being ushered in across the north-west and across Lancashire.
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As a union leader who spent 20 years working in the NHS, I certainly spoke up for all my members, who were deeply concerned about the destruction of the NHS because of the privatisation and fragmentation that was happening across it.
The second issue is what is happening to NHS buildings. We know that buildings were moved into NHS Property Services, which is a wholly owned company with one shareholder: the Secretary of State. He is looking through the Naylor report, which is not included in legislation at the moment, to reduce the estate. There may be some good cases for that, but profit should not be at the head of the argument. We should look at how the estate can be reinvested for the benefit of the community.
Parkland at Bootham Park Hospital in my constituency would make a fantastic public park and would address some of the mental health challenges in our city, which was the purpose of the hospital. I ask the Minister to take a further look at that opportunity. Under Treasury rules, the building and the parkland have to be sold to one private provider. Clearly, that would not work for my city. With regard to the rest of the estate at Bootham Park Hospital, it would be great to see the old mental health hospital converted into key-worker housing to support the rest of the NHS. York is in real crisis with regard to recruiting staff, because they cannot afford to live in the city. If we had key-worker homes on that estate, it would create a sea change. That is about putting public interest at the front, not private profit.
Finally, I want to talk about the future, because I am aware that time is moving on. I truly believe that the only way forward for our NHS is to have one planned public service, with full integration of mental health, physical health, public health and social care, provided in the interests of the community. We need play-space to look after the community, and no more fragmentation. It is ridiculous that we have so many regulators and so many different providers. The whole system is fragmented and fighting against itself. If we had one planned system, it would not only simplify the system, but ensure that the money is invested back into the heart and needs of patients.
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