NHS Reinstatement Bill

NHS reorganisation

Gerald Kaufman's letter

NHS Reinstatement Bill is in Parliament this Friday 11th March – but it seems very uncertain whether it will be debated.



10th March 2016

Dear Martin,

Thank you for your recent email asking me to be in the House of Commons for the second reading of the NHS Bill 2015 on Friday 11 March.

I very much regret that due to existing constituency commitments, I will be unable to be present but I thought it would be helpful if I set out my views on the Bill.

As you may know, this Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill last summer and as such, it is subject to the constraints associated with the parliamentary timetable. Even if the Bill were to receive its second reading this week (and there is no guarantee that it will even be debated), there is little prospect of the Bill becoming law in this session due to a lack of parliamentary time, as Private Members Bills only come up on sitting Fridays and we are a long way into this session of Parliament.

The Opposition is supportive of the overall objectives of the Bill. In particular, we support the principles behind duties outlined in Clause 1 of the proposed Bill – namely restoring accountability to the Secretary of State for the delivery of health services and the requirement that a comprehensive health service continues to be provided free of charge.

Labour also believes that the encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted and that decisions about NHS services should not be embedded by any international treaties or agreements.

However there are concerns that some of the other parts of this Bill would require another wholesale reorganisation of the health service.

The recent top-down reorganisation of the NHS, brought about by the Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act 2012, threw the system into turmoil, cost over £3bn and eroded staff morale.

So whilst I support the broad objectives which lie behind this Bill, I am concerned about the scale of structural change and costs associated with any further major reorganisation of the NHS.

If the Bill were to proceed, Labour would seek to amend it so that it avoids the problems of a further reorganisation but implements the key principles of the Bill.

In line with our manifesto commitment at the last election, Labour is committed to repealing the competition elements of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and ensuring that patient care is always put before profits, and collaboration before competition.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about this matter.
Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon John F Spellar MP,