Meacher’s plea to scrap NHS reform

Reporter: Lobby Correspondent
Date published: 10 May 2011

THE Government has the chance to scrap its health reforms and protect the much-loved NHS from privatisation.

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher made the plea as David Cameron came under renewed pressure to act following public calls from Lib-Dems to abandon the plans.

Health professionals have expressed great concern over Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social care Bill will hand powers to GP to commission services in their area once the primary care trusts have been abolished.

Critics fear it will lead to privatisation of the NHS by the backdoor.

Mr Meacher said: “The NHS is a lifeline and that is why everyone loves it.

It is essential to the wellbeing and survival of everyone and it is the greatest pride of the last century. I have written to David Cameron about the 1,000 job losses at Pennine Acute and how he can stand by and say there will be no impact on front-line services. I am all in favour of cutting waste and value for money but he is making significant cuts to health service spending in real terms and it is completely unacceptable.

The entire bill should be withdrawn. There is no mandate for this, David Cameron went to the electorate on a promise of no top-down reorganisation of the NHS.”

Mr Meacher says there is no evidence GP commissioning would work.

“At the very least there should be a pilot scheme in a small number of areas for a year or two and then the idea evaluated, if it has to happen at all,” he said.

The Labour MP fears the north will be disproportionately hit and commissioning could lead to a postcode lottery of services if people living in the same street were covered by different consortias.

Lib-Democrat MPs are publicly demanding the coalition Government abandon the reforms.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted he would not allow through changes in the Health Bill unless he was personally satisfied that they would not result in a “disruptive revolution”.

The Government has already announced that it is “pausing” the legislation to take account of the growing disquiet over the scale of the planned changes within the NHS.

Downing Street confirmed the current listening exercise would continue into next month as ministers wrestle with the thorny issue of how far to change Mr Lansley’s blueprint for reform.