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UNISON calls on Lords to see through Lansley's NHS lies 10/10/2011

UNISON is calling on peers to oppose the Health Bill tomorrow (11 October), during its second reading in the House of Lords.

The UK's largest union is urging them to see through Health Minister Andrew Lansley's lies over the fragmentation, instability and inequity of NHS services.

UNISON is highlighting the many dangers in the Bill, including abolishing the private patient income cap, and accompanying policies such as Any Qualified Provide. Both will lead to a much greater role for private companies and the bill will enable the Secretary of State to wash their hands of responsibility for the NHS.

In an unprecedented show of strength of feeling around these reforms, a record number of Peers will be speaking on the Health and Social Care Bill. At least 90 peers have signalled that they want to speak. The last time so many spoke was in 1999, on the Reform of Lords Act.

Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary, said:

"Peers must see through Lansley's lies and vote against the Health Bill. Just recently 400 health experts warned them to oppose it, joining a growing number of campaign groups, charities, patient groups, health unions and royal colleges.

"This Bill is wasting billions of taxpayers' money in pointless bureaucracy, as health workers lose their jobs, waiting lists grow, and operations are cancelled.

"There are huge dangers in removing the private patient income cap, especially when budgets are tight. The public care deeply about who provides health services - they do not want private companies running the show and putting profits first.

"NHS patients will be pushed to the back of growing queues, and those who can pay will leapfrog to the front. Every penny must go towards caring for patients, and boosting our NHS for the future, not into boosting the profits of private companies.

"Empowering patients could be achieved without a massive top-down reorganisation that threatens to divert billions away from improving patient care. The cost of government plans is likely to exceed any savings.

"We must protect the NHS - it is one of the most cost effective health systems in the developed world and public satisfaction recently reached an all time high. The Government's plans are fundamentally flawed - Peers must oppose the Bill during the Second Reading."

UNISON is opposed to the Bill because it:

Abolishes the private patient income cap, meaning NHS patients are likely to have to wait longer for treatment, endangering the principle that access is based on need rather than ability to pay.

Brings wholesale competition into the NHS with the regulator able to enforce competition law in the style of the utilities regulators - integration and cooperation are banished to the margins.

Includes accompanying policies such as Any Qualified Provider, which will lead to a much greater role for private companies, despite scandals in other sectors demonstrating the folly of such an approach.

Allows the Secretary of State to wash his hands of responsibility for the NHS, with implications for the maintenance of comprehensive, free and consistent NHS services.

Attempts to address transparency and involvement in the new system are too weak.

Fails to value NHS staff by undermining pay and bargaining structures, and providing too little on comprehensive education and training.

Includes an unnecessary overhaul for the regulation of social workers.