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Time running out for health unions on Health Bill

Not too late to heed the concerns of health professionals, unions say

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

As key debates are set to go ahead in the Commons and Lords today, four major health unions have called on parliamentarians to listen to the concerns of health professionals and withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill.

Today the Commons will debate and vote on an e-petition calling for the Bill to be dropped while the Lords will debate the Bill for the final time before it moves to Lords Third Reading on 19 March.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA council, said: “We’re in the end stages of the legislative process now and it’s still not too late for parliamentarians to do the right thing. Despite even further amendment, there are still many unaddressed concerns about the high risks this Bill poses to the NHS, and it is clear that it is not fit for purpose. 

“It is time for parliamentarians to put aside party politics, listen to the concerns of almost everyone working in the NHS and withdraw this Bill. We have pledged to work constructively to develop an alternative – one that has the buy-in of NHS workers and one that will improve rather than wreck the NHS.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said nurses did not take the decision to oppose this bill lightly. “They act out of genuine and sincere concerns which have not been addressed,” he said. “If the Bill is withdrawn, the RCN pledges to working constructively on an alternative which will meet the pressing needs without jeopardising the health service of the future.”

Professor Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “There is still time to save the health service from this wreck of a Bill; I call on parliamentarians of all parties to work with NHS staff to deliver a health service we can all be proud of.”

Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: “This fundamentally flawed piece of legislation will introduce a chaotic system where services are available in one town but not the next, and cash-strapped NHS hospitals put patients who can pay jump ahead of those who can’t.”

“If NHS services are put out of business because private companies take over the work, they will be lost forever. The stakes are that high.”

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