A vigil to highlight the “plight” of the NHS will be held in the evening of November 20, the day before the second reading of a private member’s bill aimed at “rolling back” privatisation.
Activists from the health unions, Unite, Unison and the GMB will be staging a candle-lit vigil opposite the House of Commons, from 7pm until a vote by MPs on the National Health Services (Amended Duties and Powers) bill due at lunchtime tomorrow.
“This is a symbolic vigil to drive home to MPs the importance of voting for Clive Efford’s bill”
The bill is being promoted by Labour MP for Eltham Clive Efford and is aimed at amending the government’s controversial Health and Social Care Act 2012, by rewriting the rules on competitive tendering.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “This is a symbolic vigil to drive home to MPs the importance of voting for Clive Efford’s bill as the first step on the journey to next May’s ballot box to restore the NHS to a service free at the point of delivery for all those in need.
“It will also have the effect of banishing the privatisation tentacles that are currently enveloping the NHS for the benefit of shareholder profits of the private healthcare companies,” she said.
GMB national officer for the NHS Rehana Azam said: “Clive Efford’s draft bill is an important moment in the growing campaign to restore a publicly-run NHS. Backbench Tory and Lib Dem MPs will have to answer to their constituents if they don’t take this chance to undo the damage done by the coalition’s hugely controversial changes.
“We are moving into a government-induced NHS crisis this winter. Health workers are taking a second wave of industrial action in the week commencing 24 November in a dispute over pay.
“Since the coalition pushed through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, NHS services have been sold off at an alarming rate. We have seen almost £12.5 billion worth of NHS services put out to market and some 70% of contracts handed to the private sector. GMB campaigned against the Tory-Lib Dem reforms from the beginning.
“Since the coalition pushed through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, NHS services have been sold off at an alarming rate”
“The NHS should be the provider of health services and alternatives desperately need to be found to the toxic PFI contracts that NHS trusts simply can’t manage.”
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Cameron’s Health and Social Care Act has caused huge damage to our NHS by selling off a range of vital services to private healthcare companies.
“Clive Efford’s bill aims to put a halt to this shameful project by protecting the NHS from the ravages of competition law and rightly placing patient care before profits,” he said.
“The Bill ensures that Britain’s most loved institution operates on its founding principles of a service that meets the needs of patients and is free at the point of delivery,” added Mr Prentis.
“The NHS is a key political area for the next general election,” he said. “Now is the time for MPs in this coalition government to admit they got in wrong in 2012 and vote for this bill.”