By 999 Call for the NHS, Mar 19 2016 09:24AM
Friday 11th March
Caroline Lucas presented the NHS BILL (formerly NHS Reinstatement Bill). It was an opportunity for the Labour Party to get behind something that (no matter how imperfect it might technically as a Draft Bill) set out clear aims to bring back the NHS into public hands again. Taking the private market culture out of it and making it impossible for private corporations to control - as they are doing now in our understanding.
Deborah Harrington gives us this brilliant thought as to why Labour chose not to support it with MPs attendance at the debate - despite over 42,000 signatures on a 38 Degree petition.
Some context for those who don't get the point of the NHS Bill and think there is no problem with Labour not turning up to support it.
The first problem of note is Simon Stevens.
Simon Stevens was an NHS manager. He became a health policy advisor to Alan Milburn, in 1997, along with Mark Britnell and Penny Dash. He was also a Labour councillor in Lambeth.
He introduced the first privatisations into the NHS, including the Foundation Trusts (making them arm's length business units, rather than publicly owned services), PFI, and bringing United Health in to run the first privatised GP practices, among many other things. (Hansard evidence click)
In 2006 he went to work for United Health (the US's largest private healthcare corporation) in their Europe division, and in 2008 as president of global operations.
(Mark Britnell went on to KPMG and Penny Dash to McKinsey, where her role has included being a Trust Special Administrator - a role created by Labour)
In that role Stevens led a lobby group, lobbying the US Trade Dept to use trade laws to break open public health services worldwide to create access for US markets. United Health also lobbied against Obama's affordable care act.
In 2014 the Coalition brought him back as NHS England's CEO. Within a few months he had produced the 5 Year Forward View, which is what all your hospitals are suffering under, all the closures, reductions in service, land sales.
The 5YFV is completing the implementation of the H&SCA (2012). Labour calls Lansley's Act the reorganisation of the NHS, as if it is done and dusted and behaves as if everything else is just a consequence of the de-funding. It isn't. It is the constant restructuring of the 5 YFV. The money is being used as a lever to get the changes made - comply and you'll be bailed out, is the message.
Labour welcomed Stevens' appointment and support the 5 YFV. You can't oppose privatisation of the NHS and simultaneously support Stevens.
The second problem of note
is private sector involvement in the NHS and public ownership.
No matter what the Labour Party says, it appears to have no intention of renationalising the Foundation Trust hospitals, which is essential if they are not to be sold off as hospital chains to foreign investors (one of the next privatisation steps).
It is impossible to get the Labour Party to commit to Bevan's principles. Efford's Bill was not a proper 'NHS' bill. They refuse to support the actual NHS bill on the grounds that it is another 'top down reorganisation'. This is based on three things: 1. that the NHS staff don't want any more reorganisations. This is not true. Staff know the NHS is in a broken up mess. They need it to be put back together. But Simon Stevens says, in the 5YF that staff do not want another reorganisation (as he downgrades, closes and restructures all our services), and Simon is god like in the infallibility of his pronouncements according to all the main Parliamentary parties. 2. That everything is just settling down after Lansley's Act. It isn't, as explained above. 3. They don't understand the bill's provisions for returning to Bevan's NHS, because they don't understand anything about the nuts and bolts of health provision.
And Labour is quite happy to sell off our public land and assets. They also had no problem with massive restructuring for the purposes of privatisation. It is only restructuring to bring it back into public ownership they object to.
The Bill itself was totemic. In the face of piss poor opposition to date from Labour to the Coalition's and now the Tories' brutal destruction (they would have had to confess -and renounce- their role in the privatisation to successfully oppose) their support for the bill would have been a marker of intent on their part. And, with the SNP support + Lucas herself would have indicated the start of a progressive alliance that might have posed a real threat to the government. Unfortunately that's of little interest to a large section of the PLP.
It should be a matter of concern to the Corbynistas that John McDonnell was happy for Labour MPs to attend and vote in favour of the bill. He thought any problems could be dealt with in committee stage. But Labour Central issued the standard reply to be sent to constituents by all MPs, presumably against his will? - and Corbyn's? - on Thursday, saying they all had constituency duties, when they had had months of notice and could have rearranged their schedules for the day.
You have to understand that this is a story of corporate capture of our democratic processes, not a question of party political purity. United Health, McKinsey, KPMG, PwC and others are making the decisions about our NHS - on behalf of both the Tories and Labour. New Labour introduced New Public Management - the idea that government is about management of an entrepreneurial culture, not about political ideology. They brought think tanks and management consultants in to take the place of the civil service. The same management consultants whose major clients are global corporations. We need to fight this corruption of our democracy. Then the Labour Parliamentary party might return to the values most of its supporters old and new hold dear.