Huppert opposes Health Bill
March 13, 2012
Julian Huppert, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, has today voted in favour of two bids to drop the Health Bill.
Julian voted in favour of an amendment tabled by some Liberal Democrats saying that the House “declines to support the Bill in its current form; and calls for an urgent summit of the Royal Colleges, professional bodies, patients' organisations and the Government to plan health reforms based on the Coalition Agreement”.
Julian said, "I voted against this Bill when it left the House of Commons last September. While it has been improved significantly, it is not improved enough.
“Crucially, this Bill is now opposed by the medical professionals who would have to implement it. I have therefore voted to drop the Bill.
“I firmly believe that the NHS does need reform and improvement. Citizens of this country deserve a first-class health service which protects everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Labour's failed reforms have put that in jeopardy.
“Labour introduced private sector providers into the NHS, and paid them more than NHS providers for the same service – they even paid one £250 million for operations they didn't do! They spent £12 billion on a computer system that never worked, and left the NHS with a £60 billion bill from PFI contracts. And their manifesto called for even greater involvement of the private sector.
“When this mismanagement came to light, they spent millions on managers and consultants. Between 2008 and 2010 the number of management consultants in the NHS increased by 80 per cent.
“The result of all this is health outcomes which are below the EU15 average and near-bankrupt hospitals. There is a pressing need for reform.
“But I believe that the only way to maintain free, universal health care is through bottom-up reforms which are fully supported by clinicians on the ground. The Government's reforms do not have that backing so I cannot support them.
“I call on the Government to engage with the medical professions, withdraw the Bill and introduce new, bottom-up reforms in line with the Coalition Agreement.
“I am proud of Liberal Democrat amendments to improve this bill. Our changes have substantially changed the bill, ensuring that competition is not the focus, that there is a duty to reduce health inequality, and that there is greater priority for medical research. We would still have a universal health care system free at the point of care.
“And there are some good sections in the bill – never again will Governments be allowed to favour private sector contracts when there are existing NHS providers.
“The Government will also increase spending on the NHS, a huge achievement given the circumstances.
“However, you simply cannot reform the health service without the support of doctors, GPs, nurses, health professionals and industry experts.
“Our NHS is too precious – too vital for the welfare of every single person living in Cambridge – for it to be bankrupted by inefficient structures, or broken up by unpopular reforms.
“I hope that the Government will be able to improve the NHS over the coming years, but I believe that the current Bill will not make the changes needed."