New health bill ‘a smokescreen’ for more NHS privatisation, says Unite

23 September 2021

The government are being accused of using the pandemic as ‘a smokescreen’ to push through the Health and Care Bill. Unite the union said earlier this week that the bill will simply open the floodgates for more NHS privatisation.

Unite, which has 100,000 members working in the health sector, said the bill is ‘a recipe for more privatisation’ in England with ‘an adverse impact for patients’ as waiting lists continue to rise. 

The bill was introduced in parliament in July and is due to have its third reading in the Commons mid-October.

Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: ‘The NHS is our greatest achievement and after a decade of underfunding and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic this bill is not the prescription we need.

‘Instead of helping our NHS, this bill invites private companies to make further inroads into our NHS to the detriment of patients and workers and gives the secretary of state new powers to interfere in the work of health professionals.’

Unite states that if the bill becomes law, it would ‘allow for so-called Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) to cherry pick services and undermine current working practices’. The union also warns that ‘APMS contracts are not in the interests of either the public or health care professionals’.

Unite is emailing its members to write to their MPs urging them to vote against the bill.

Jackie Williams added: ‘APMS contracts have been described by legal professionals as “the private sector’s gateway to providing primary health care to NHS patients”. They allow companies that are not owned or controlled by medical professionals to run GP surgeries. 

Jackie continues: 
‘This bill is deeply flawed and creates pathways for health systems that are based on models developed by the private insurance industry in the USA and elsewhere, with profit as the key priority.’

The Unite campaign regarding the bill can be accessed here

To read the bill itself, visit the UK Parliament website and here for explanatory notes.

The NHS confederation offer their analysis here

Image credit | iStock