Many people in Salford have told me that they are becoming worried by the threat of privatisation of the NHS. For 66 years, the NHS has served us well with services delivered free at the point of need.
But now, because Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers forced through their Health and Social Care Act, existing NHS organisations can lose work to profit-making private health organisations.
Recently, commissioners of services gave a contract to a private health company to run scanning services in Lancashire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire. The NHS bid to run these services was said to be £7 million cheaper, so it is hard to see what justified this privatisation.
As an MP on the Health Select Committee, it is alarming to see this race to privatise our NHS. In Stoke and Staffordshire all cancer and end of life care services are being put out to tender. The majority of organisations bidding for the £1.2 billion 10-year contract for these services are private health companies.
When the Health committee looked at this at Westminster, we were told that there were no examples elsewhere in the world where this risky approach to tendering had been tried. It seems even more risky when we see that the first private company running an NHS hospital has pulled out apparently because the contract was costing them too much.
At the same time as public money is being wasted on these unnecessary market experiments, we are short of hospital nurses, GPs, district nurses and other staff who could be helping to run our health and care services more safely and effectively.
Our NHS has clearly been damaged by this Government’s expensive and unnecessary re-organisation. Cuts to social care and other community services have added to a winter of crisis for the NHS.
Now more than ever we need the investment that a Labour Government would put into 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 more care workers. Labour will also put an end to the uncertainty and waste caused by privatisation and will end NHS services having to be put out to tender.