Hartlepool MP leads NHS fight as privatisation petition comes to House of Commons
Hartlepool's MP said he was proud to have the chance to lead an important health debate.
Mike Hill, the MP for the town, lead the debate on NHS privatisation in the House of Commons.
Mr Hill is a member of the Petitions Committee and brought the debate on the e-petition before Westminster after it had been backed by more than 100,000 people.
He said: “As a health campaigner I was pleased to be able to lead this important debate on NHS privatisation, which was prompted by a petition which attracted over 100,000 signatures.
“The NHS is dear to people’s hearts and should remain free at the point of use, yet some of its functions remain vulnerable to marketisation and we are seeing an increasing involvement by the private sector in the delivery of services; particularly community based ones.
“It is estimated that over the next three years around £10 billion of NHS spend will go to the private sector - money which could be better invested in our publicly run health services.”
At the debate, Mr Hill, said: “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.
“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.”
Several MPs took part in the debate, including Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, who said: “Patients who attend any of the four UK health services will receive amazing care, but that is predominantly due to the dedication of the people who work in them, some of whom are working against much harder pressures than others.
“Government members talked about outsourced cleaning and car parking as a good thing. There was evidence that it was the outsourcing of cleaning, and poor-quality cleaning, that led to the rise of hospital-acquired infections.”
The Minister for Health, Stephen Barclay, spoke at the debate, saying: “I conclude by reaffirming the absolute commitment of this Government to maintain treatment free at the point of use, but also always to put the needs of patients first and to respect value for money for the taxpayer.”