MPs blast health shake-up

MP Iain Wright.
MP Iain Wright.

MPs have blasted a major shake-up of the NHS after controversial legislation was passed last night.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright accused the Government of “riding roughshod” over public and expert opinion on the Health and Social Care Bill.

Mr Wright said the bill amounted to “privatisation” of the NHS and fears patients in Hartlepool will be worse off.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said he fears it will see a “two-tier” health service where patients will wait longer for treatment.

The bill abolishes Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts and gives much greater control over care budgets and commissioning decisions to GPs and other health professionals.

It is intended to give GPs greater control over NHS budgets, reduce bureaucracy, and increase patient choice.

Mr Wright said: “It injects an element of competition into the health service which will be to the detriment of deprived areas like Hartlepool.

“My big fear is clinical commissioning groups could cherry-pick their patients in the same way banks do with customers. It means the most vulnerable lose out.

“What’s astonishing is almost every single group that works in the NHS like surgeons, doctors, nurses are all opposed to this bill.

“The Government is riding roughshod over many people’s concerns.”

A last-ditch call by Labour to delay final consideration of the overhaul until an assessment of the potential risks is published was defeated by 82 votes.

MPs approved a series of amendments last night and the Government hopes the bill will now get Royal Assent and become law by Easter.

Speaking just moments after the bill was passed, Easington Labour MP Grahame Morris said: “Naturally, I’m very disappointed. I think we have won the arguments, but sadly we lost the vote.

“My view is we will have a two-tier service and NHS patients will be waiting longer for treatment.

“I’m very concerned at opening up a very precious national institution to competition from the private sector at every entry point.

“Labour is committed to reversing it and putting the N back in the NHS.”