September 8, 2014 by Protect Our NHS
An excellent and hard working NHS campaigner from Lancashire sent us a copy of the letter she had written to her local Conservative MP, David Morris after failing to speak to him at his local surgery about the privatisation of the NHS and the dangers inherent in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. We note from his web site that Mr Morris claims to have “campaigned to improve NHS services locally” and among other Parliamentary work that, “In 2010 David was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Hairdressing Council”.
1st Sept 2014
I was shocked and ashamed at your attitude and behaviour towards me during your public ‘surgery’ in Morecambe last week. By storming off you denied anyone else the chance to speak with you, and left me shaken and disappointed. Then I learned from a friend that the incident had been (mis)-reported in the Sun newspaper! I am even more disconcerted.
I have some serious anxieties that I wanted to discuss with you, as my representative in Parliament. I explained to you in person that I will be asking the same of anyone wishing to be my MP. There are, however some specific points that are pertinent to yourself alone.
I am very concerned about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is being negotiated in private, and especially how it will affect our NHS and our democracy.
Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, (which you voted for), NHS services have already been ‘harmonised’ with the USA corporate-benefit, public health model. It has enforced competitive tendering which is now open to transnational corporations. When TTIP goes through, the 2012 HSC Act will become irreversible, regardless of how disastrous the effects of competitive tendering may prove to be.
None of this was in any political party manifesto before the last election, yet private providers who have to put profit before the health of patients will have unprecedented opportunities for lucrative health contracts and access NHS records, yet no party has had the mandate to let this happen. There have already been cases where a private provider has put in a low bid, been awarded a health contract then found they were making a loss, pulled out, leaving patients high and dry, the NHS short staffed and potentially deskilled, having to do damage limitation. Future governments will be not be able to take privatised health services back into public ownership for fear of litigation.
In Australia under a similar US Pacific trade deal, and using the new Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rules, tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing the Australian government for billions of dollars because of new anti-smoking legislation introducing plain packaging for cigarettes. They have been able to do this because it was deemed to penalise foreign investors. Canada was being sued by US drugs firm Eli Lilly, for revoking patents on drugs on the grounds that their benefits may have been overstated.
ISDS means that Multinational corporations would be able to bypass our domestic courts and challenge our national health policy decisions in secret, before an ad hoc arbitration tribunal, and sue any government for damages if there was a potential loss of income because our government adopted policies deemed to ‘discriminate’ against free trade, even if the policy was in the public’s best interest. This would make future governments and a health service impotent to make decisions in the public good.
David, would you agree this is an attack on the canon of Western democracy and we would not want it here?
As my MP please will you write to David Cameron and ask him to use his veto to categorically exclude the whole of the health and social care sector from the TTIP trade deal. (The NHS will not be protected by the 1944 General Agreement on Trade in Services) Please let me know his response. Thanks.
I was however heartened to see in The Westmorland Gazette of 14th August 2014 you were quoted as saying…
‘I am against all privatisation of the NHS’. I know that you voted for the 2012 Health and Social Care Act but were absent from the House for the vote on the Hospital Closures Bill. Hopefully you were having a rethink about the marketisation of the NHS.
David Cameron did promise that there would be no forced privatisation of health services, yet under this government £12billion worth of contacts have been awarded to the private sector with plans to outsource a £1-2billion cancer care contract in Staffordshire. Most services are still free at the point of delivery but the government no longer has a legal requirement to provide among other things, free maternity and children’s services, mental and dental public health, the ambulance service, sexual health services and illness prevention. The CCG and the local authority decide which services are free and which must be paid for.
Do you agree that the NHS has been expensively fragmented and it looks as though we are heading toward an American style insurance based health care system? No privatised service delivers more than the NHS for less without excluding the poor or sick. If you are serious in what you say, please will you actively and publicly support the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act? I am sure many local people would be very relieved if you did, especially as nationally certain types of health care are already becoming a postcode lottery.
In this area (Lancashire North) we are fortunate at the moment to have a CCG that does appear to try hard to get a good deal for the public given the constraints they are under.
I will quote the complete article as printed in The Westmorland Gazette because there are one or two points on which I would appreciate clarification. My queries and observations will be in italics:
‘I am against all privatisation of the NHS and in fact privatisation of the NHS was higher under Labour than this government,” said Mr Morris, who won Morecambe and Lunesdale with a majority of just 866 votes in the 2010 election.
“My constituents in Morecambe and Lunesdale have been well informed of my various NHS campaigns against Labour lies in the area. Recently there have been three major campaigns on the false closure of the A&E at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, job losses which did not happen and most recently that the pharmacy in Lancaster was to be privatised. (As I understand UMBT board have stated publicly that tenders for the pharmacy have been put out for private contract for the 3 hospitals within the Trust at a cost of £25 million. Because any private pharmacy provider can claim back 20%VAT on all items dispensed they have a cost advantage over any NHS bid.)
“All of these negative campaigns by Labour have happened against a backdrop of more staff being employed by the trust and £150 million being given to our trust to improve their services.
“In addition to this funding, I was able to secure, a new same day health centre in Morecambe, (as I understand this was part funded by government money through The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, and was built and now run by a private for profit company, Coastal Healthcare Ltd) new £25 million health centre in Heysham, (also built by Coastal Health Care Ltd used now by the Coastal Health Group) £1 million for GP services to improve availability of doctors out of hours, and four new wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
“All of this is on top of the work I have done with the new trust team and the Department of Health, sorting out the various issues the trust had as a direct result of Andy Burnham MP approving Foundation Trust status when he shouldn’t have.”
Please what was your part in securing Coastal Health Care Ltd.’s win of the Prime Minister’s Challenge?
I am not a member of any political party or union, but I do try to keep abreast of what is happening in the current political and social climate; locally nationally and internationally especially around the health service.
Thank you for your attention to my questions, I look forward to hearing from you.
CC Prime Minister David Cameron