Much of the national media seemed to be distracted by Boris Johnson’s car crash “Brrmm, brrmm, eurgh, forgive me, Peppa Pig” speech to the CBI earlier this week.
Less attention was given to the Health and Care Bill, which passed its third reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday (23 November).
It is likely to have dramatic future consequences for NHS and care services across the city as well as nationally.
There was some outcry at the brazen reversal of Johnson’s 2019 election pledge to ensure that nobody would have to sell their home to fund care services.
But there was very little coverage or comment on the wider implications of the bill, which I think are frankly terrifying.
After 11 years of funding cuts and a global pandemic, the NHS is already at breaking point, with 17,000 fewer beds, staff shortages of well over 100,000, waiting lists of over six million people and one of the worst GP to patient ratios in the world – and this bill will do nothing to help.
In our city, the bill will do away with the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which currently decides how local services are run.
The CCG will be replaced with a much bigger Integrated Care System covering all of Sussex.
It will give private healthcare executives places on the board, deciding how to spend public money.
It will remove transparent procurement in the NHS, raising serious fears of the kind of rampant cronyism we have seen so much of during the covid crisis, with mates-of-ministers being handed multimillion-pound contracts to provide often unusable products or services.
Brighton and Hove already has a shortage of GPs and major staffing gaps in our hospitals and care homes.
Senior doctors at the Royal Sussex County went public about the “extremely unsafe situation” there back in September.
And let’s not forget that burnout, long covid, PTSD and other health issues are affecting all levels of health and care staff.
I would encourage anyone who objects to the running down and creeping privatisation of our most loved service to add their voices to the many groups opposing this bill, from the BMA to Sussex Defend the NHS, Just Treatment and EveryDoctor.
Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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