A TUG of war was staged in Leamington to protest against a controversial health bill.
Campaign group South Warwickshire Keep Our NHS Private (SWKONP) are angry at the Health and Care Bill which recently passed its second reading in the House of Commons – legislation which campaigners have branded a ‘corporate takeover Bill’.
The Bill aims to create Integrated Care Boards and Integrated Care Partnerships, bringing together local NHS and councils so services for social care, mental health and public health advice work together more efficiently.
But NHS campaigners claim the Bill will increase the private sector’s involvement in the NHS and have called for the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid to withdraw the legislation.
Among their concerns are the proposed changes to the rules for contracting NHS services. Presently, the 2012 Health and Social Care Act requires competitive bidding for NHS services. The new legislation would scrap this requirement, which campaigners claim would make it easier for services to be contracted to the private sector.
SWKONP secretary Anna Pollert said: “I was shocked when I heard about the details of the government’s plans for our NHS. With the year we’ve had, our precious health service should be being invested in and cared for.
“Instead, the government is planning to open the NHS up to further privatisation, with profit hungry companies being given a seat at the decision making table.
“We’re campaigning to stop this outrageous attack on our health service. We want our NHS to be run for all of us, not in the interests of private companies.”
But the Department of Health and Social Care has said the move would allow more public consultation, reduce bureaucracy and the need for competitive bidding where it added ‘limited or no value’.
It also claimed the NHS itself had said they were wasting ‘precious resources on tendering processes’.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has also welcomed the Bill he said contained proposals developed and consulted on by the health service itself.
He added it would allow joined up working between GPs, hospitals and community services.