Today was another sad step backwards for the future of the NHS. This is because, across the political spectrum, MPs failed to turn up in Parliament to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill that had been first presented to the House of Commons last summer by the Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas.
The Bill proposed to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketisation in the NHS: a step that is necessary to stop the dismantling of the NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
And although the initial tabling of the Bill (on July 1, 2015) was supported by both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, nearly all the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party has shied away from backing the Bill.
As Ms Lucas made clear prior to today’s debate: “This Friday MPs have a chance to show their commitment to our NHS. The NHS needs Labour to back this Bill.”
But tragically the Bill fell, not least because only 15 of the Labour Party’s 232 MPs even bothered to turn up to debate the urgent need for such a Bill.
Perhaps not unexpectedly, not one of Leicester’s 3 MPs attended the debate. I say not unexpectedly, because neither Jonathan Ashworth, Liz Kendall, or Keith Vaz have publicly affirmed their support for Ms Lucas’ life-saving Bill. This of course is a significant demonstration of this trios Blairite politics, and by contrast, this Bill is resolutely backed by front-line NHS workers, the public, and the Council of the British Medical Association.
During Friday’s ‘debate,’ Ms Lucas acknowledged that “Margaret Thatcher’s Government introduced the internal market right back in the 1990s.” But she added that New Labour reneged on their 1997 manifesto promise “to end the Tory internal market,” and then actually “embedded it even further.”
So what, one might reasonably ask, were Leicester’s Labour MPs doing today instead of attending Parliament?
Well, Keith Vaz visited Thurnby Lodge Community Centre to see a defribrillator fitted to it’s wall. According to a statement on Vaz’s web site: “Members of the Community Centre will be shown how to unlock the case and use the defibrillator should the need arise.”
This morning, Jonathan Ashworth addressed a summit on mental health, while last but not least, Liz Kendall visited a local secondary school, where she tweeted her love of student artwork fittingly themed around the Mexican “Day of the Dead.”
Isn’t it ironic that with the NHS being dismantled at a furious pace, one MP tweets about death, another about enabling the public to resuscitate the dead (because of the growing absence of trained doctors), and the last is worried about our mental health. But none found the time to support Ms Lucas’ Bill to help save the NHS.
All this leaves one to wonder if our local MPs may have slightly misplaced political priorities around issues that the rest of us consider to be of utmost importance to the life and death of the National Health Service.