I recently took part in a debate in Westminster on NHS privatisation. The debate was called after 238,022 people signed a petition to stop the privatisation of NHS services, including 442 Warrington South constituents.
Back in February I joined NHS campaigners outside Warrington Hospital to speak out against NHS privatisation. Similar events took place across the country. The level of public concern about this issue shows just how important the NHS is to British people.
The NHS is our most sacred and treasured institution. Founded 70 years ago on the fundamental principle that everyone is entitled to free healthcare, it does not discriminate on the basis of wealth, gender or race. Every day, thousands of lives are saved by our fantastic NHS staff at NHS hospitals.
The Government has a duty to protect the NHS and its staff, and to ensure that they can continue to provide world-class healthcare to the British public, free at the point of use.
We all use the NHS, and we all have a vested interest in ensuring that it is run effectively and efficiently. But privatisation and outsourcing are not the answer.
Privatisation forces NHS hospitals to outsource vital services to private companies, which are often more interested in making a profit than helping sick people. That is a fundamental conflict of interest.
The NHS has a duty to its patients, whereas private companies have a duty to their shareholders, but shareholders care about profits, and often the only way to make a profit is by cutting corners. That inevitably compromises the quality of care.
The Government claims that private sector outsourcing is good for the NHS and that it allows patients access to treatments based on the best quality of care and value for money, but evidence suggests otherwise.
The process by which private companies bid for contracts allows them effectively to cherry-pick the most profitable forms of treatment—usually low-risk elective surgeries. That is far from providing the best quality of care for patients.
The NHS is in crisis. Chronic underfunding compounded by a growing and ageing population has put an unbearable strain on the NHS and resulted last year in yet another winter crisis.
Yet the Government’s only answer to the crisis is more privatisation.
The reality is that privatisation is bad for quality, budgets and the NHS. More privatisation will not help the NHS.
The only way to help it is to give it the funding that it needs.