Wirral MP speaks out against Health and Care Bill

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16 Jul 2021
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has spoken out against the government’s Health and Care Bill which had its Second Reading in Parliament recently. 

The legislation will establish statutory Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs).  

This follows the formation of non-statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) which have developed across 42 areas of England since 2016, with Wirral being part of the one for Cheshire and Merseyside.

If the Health and Care Bill becomes law, ICBs will take on the commissioning functions of local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which will be abolished, and they will be directly accountable for NHS spend and performance within the new system. 

ICPs will be tasked with developing a strategy to address the health, social care and public health needs of its 'system'. The ICB and local authorities will have to have regard to that plan when making decisions. 

Margaret Greenwood MP has been critical of the government’s plans since they were first announced in the form of a white paper back in February. 

Now, the Labour MP is warning that the bill will lead to:  

- a postcode lottery, with ICBs deciding which treatments to prioritise, and which not to prioritise in their given areas 
- increased rationing of services, with patients being forced to wait longer for treatment or go without  
- big business at the heart of both ICBs and ICPs, with private companies influencing decisions about what health and social care is available in an area, despite the fact those very same companies will, in all likelihood, be seeking contracts to deliver health and care in that same area 
- vulnerable patients being put at risk and families being left to pick up the pieces as a result of the bill removing the requirement for social care needs assessments to be carried out before a patient is discharged from hospital 
- serious implications for the quality of patient care over time, as well as the future pay and terms and conditions of staff because of the powers in the bill to deregulate NHS professions. 

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

"The government’s Health and Care Bill is an extremely damaging piece of legislation with serious implications for patients and for NHS staff.  

"The devil really is in the detail of this bill.

"I believe it is inevitable that we will see the emergence of a postcode lottery and increased rationing. 

"ICBs will have strict financial limits each year, and once that money is gone, patients may have to wait longer or go without treatment. It also opens the possibility of beds 
closing towards the end of the financial year so that ICBs can achieve financial balance. It makes no sense. 

"Vulnerable patients will be put at risk because of the government’s reckless hospital discharge policy and families will be left to pick up the pieces. Those without family will be at risk of isolation and lack of care. 

"Instead of protecting and strengthening the shared vision that our NHS should be universal and comprehensive, paid for through direct taxation and delivered by public 
sector employees, the government is handing it gift-wrapped to big business. 

"The bill is a recipe for cronyism – the kind which we have seen so much of during the pandemic, with the government handing billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to private firms to people they happen to have a personal relationship with. 

"The NHS Constitution states very clearly: the NHS belongs to the people. This bill threatens that fundamental principle. 

"That is why I voted against the Health and Care Bill at second reading." 

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