Margaret Greenwood MP has hit out at the government for bringing forward a ‘damaging’ white paper that ‘says very little on care but proposes a major reorganisation of the National Health Service’ at a time when NHS staff are exhausted.
Speaking in a debate in Parliament, the MP for Wirral West accused ministers of being ‘reckless’ and ‘irresponsible’ for planning to bring in the reforms at a time when staff are exhausted following over a year of battling coronavirus and when millions of people in England are waiting for NHS treatment.
Margaret Greenwood used her speech to argue that the government’s plans to put 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across England on a statutory footing, with each ICS setting its own local plan for health and social care, would:
- embed a postcode lottery, with the health and social care services that people could access varying depending on where they live
- open up the opportunity for private companies to have a say in what health and social care services are provided in an area, with the very same private companies potentially then providing those services, representing an opportunity for conflicts of interest
- give the government the power to deregulate NHS professions, with potentially serious implications for patient safety and for the employment status and terms and conditions of workers
- allow the discharge of vulnerable patients from hospital before
they have been assessed for Continuing Healthcare (CHC), leaving patients at risk and families to pick up the pieces
- create immense uncertainty for NHS staff and open the door to widespread cronyism and increased privatisation.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“Almost 5 million people in England are waiting for NHS treatment, and a quarter of people with mental health problems are having to wait months to get help.
“There are nearly 90,000 vacancies across the NHS in England and 1.5 million older people are not receiving the social care support that they need.
“It is these issues that the government should be addressing as a matter of urgency.
“Instead, ministers have come forward with damaging proposals in the form of a white paper which would embed a postcode lottery, increase privatisation and allow the discharge of vulnerable patients from hospital before they have been assessed for Continuing Healthcare, leaving patients at risk and families to pick up the pieces.
“The proposals could also have serious implications for patient safety and for the employment status and terms and conditions of workers in the NHS and social care.
“Ministers have failed to communicate to the public the impact that their proposed reforms would have on patients and staff.
“It is only right that the public and those who work in the NHS are given the opportunity to scrutinise the government's far-reaching plans and raise their concerns.
“The government should pause its plans for a major reorganisation of the NHS until after all Covid restrictions have been lifted.
“It should then carry out a full public consultation, so that patients, NHS staff, care workers and unpaid carers can have their say on the proposals.”
You can watch Margaret Greenwood MP’s contribution to the debate here: https://tinyurl.com/3mhw3j4k
You can read her speech in full here: https://tinyurl.com/3rdp4nt6