In the edition of November 6, there is a letter from MP Tim Loughton in which he launches a scurrilous attack on Mr Carl Walker of the National Health Action Party. His letter contains a number of statements that have to be challenged.
The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 was passed by the Con-Dem government in the teeth of opposition from NHS professionals, workers in the service and NHS user groups who opposed it principally because it explicitly opens up the service to competitive tendering from ‘Any Qualified Provider’ (AQP) and charges the clinical commissioning groups with enforcing the tendering process.
This is exactly what Coastal West Sussex CCG have done with the MSK contract. Nationally, this has resulted in a massive amount of NHS work being farmed out to third-party providers, with something like 70 per cent of the contracts going to AQPs, with similar consequences to NHS services nationally as that of the awarding of the MSK contract to a BUPA-led consortium locally; massive disruption and dislocation.
Mr Loughton is correct to say there has been contracting out since 1991, when the Tory government of John Major carried on where Margaret Thatcher left off, and he is right to say that the process continued under the New Labour governments of Blair and Brown from 1997 until 2010.
But any critical analysis of the degree of privatisation since the passing of the Health and Social Care Act will show that the process massively accelerated, as the act did exactly what it was intended to.
So, Mr Loughton is being economical with the truth when he praises the ‘benefits’ of the act and its consequences, and misleading when he talks of ‘safeguards’ that the act introduces when it comes to ensuring that contracting out does not jeopardise safety.
When he talks about the current government reversing the spending cuts of the Blair/ Brown administrations, he is forgetting that both the current health secretary, Hunt, and his predecessor, Lansley, committed to slashing £20billion off the health budget.
Mr Loughton voted for this and has defended it, and Mr Walker is quite correct to identify him as having to shoulder the blame for the parlous state affairs that prevails in the health service at present.
Mr Loughton is at his most hypocritical when he talks about our fantastic local hospitals. Let us not forget his disgraceful neglect of one of the hospitals within his constituency, Southlands, where the future of the physiotherapy department is threatened as a result of the contracting out of the MSK services, a victim of the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group’s Kate Armstrong, and with demolition of a major part of the hospital courtesy of Marianne Griffiths, CEO of Western Sussex Hospitals Trust.
Mr Loughton holding talks with Peter Bottomley, another Tory MP, Marianne Griffiths and Kate Armstrong will be reassuring to no one, and local people who are appalled at the decimation of their health service should place no faith in any of these worthies, and instead continue to actively campaign to defend the health service from the destructive actions of the government and the health bosses.
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