Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth Giving Her Opposition to Tory NHS Privatisation

Last week anti-NHS privatisation group We Own It were asking their followers to write to their MPs to get them to oppose the government’s new Health and Social Care bill. This would further open up the NHS to privatisation, not least by allowing private healthcare firms to sit on the boards of NHS trusts. I was one of the peeps, who responded, writing to my local Labour MP for south Bristol, Karin Smyth. Yesterday she sent me this email:

“Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about the Health and Care Bill 2021-22.

As one of the Labour members on the Bill Committee, I have been following this Bill extremely closely, and doing everything I can to improve it. Whilst there are some positive aspects of the Bill, including reversing some of the devastating policies introduced under the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, there are also some extremely concerning elements.

The Government says the Bill builds on the NHS’s own proposals for reform, aiming to make it less bureaucratic, more accountable, and more integrated. Like many in the health sector, I agree with the objective of more integrated health and care services. But I am concerned that this is the wrong Bill at the wrong time.

Without serious changes, it will fail to integrate health and social care, erode local accountability, and give significant powers to the Health Secretary.

In particular, my Labour colleagues and I are seeking to amend the Bill to remove any possibility that private, profit-motivated firms can have any role in the boards of the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS). During Committee Stage of the Bill, the Health Minister conceded to these concerns and said the Government will bring forward a proposal to protect the independence of ICS boards by preventing individuals with interests in private healthcare from sitting on them. The Opposition will continue to press Ministers on this concession as the Bill progresses.

I’ve also been pursuing the theme of ensuring that the new bodies the Bill creates are properly accountable to local communities, and act in the interest of the patients they serve. Along with Labour colleagues, I supported a number of amendments to make this happen. We proposed that the Chairs of these Integrated Care Boards should be locally elected, and that Board members should be nominated by Directors of Public Health, mental health trusts, social care providers and trade union representatives, and a member representing patients. We also proposed that the Bill should include specific reference to health inequalities, so that NHS England has to take account of their effects when making decisions.

I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a comprehensive, integrated, and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.

This is a moment of great pressure on the NHS. Yet there is nothing in the legislation to address the greatest challenges facing the NHS. I believe the Government’s focus must instead be on ensuring that services are appropriately staffed and have the resources they need, and have been arguing for greater workforce planning, and equipping local people with the skills and training needed to help alleviate the pressures.

Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.

Yours sincerely

Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South”

Smyth is on the right of the party, and has said that she respects and supports Keef Stalin having worked with him. On the other hand, she does work hard for her constituents and has made it extremely clear that she is no fan of the Tories’ attempts to dismantle the NHS. Indeed, she told a meeting of the local Labour party that she became an MP because she was so appalled and David Cameron’s wretched NHS reforms.

I don’t trust Starmer to oppose NHS privatisation whatever he may say about it, simply because he has shown precious little difference between himself and Boris and has broken every promise he made to continue the policies advanced by Jeremy Corbyn.

But I greatly appreciate the hard work Karin Smyth puts in on behalf of the people of Bristol and her local party, and her strong efforts against the Tories’ attempts to destroy the NHS.

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One Response to “Email from Local Labour MP Karin Smyth Giving Her Opposition to Tory NHS Privatisation”

  1. Brian Burden Says:

    Confirms that most Labour MPs are still decent principled people. It’s a shame so few of them are in Starmer’s magic circle.

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