LETTERS – Why wasn’t NHS protected?

I was shocked and yet sadly not surprised at the decision of our MP and my former opponent in the 2019 General Election, Sir John Hayes to vote against the Clause 17 Amendment to the Trade Bill on July 21 which would have enshrined in law “a comprehensive and publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery”.

This would have also protected the salaries of NHS staff, regulated the control and prices of medicines and safeguarded patient information.

With a recent poll for the We Own It campaign finding that even more Conservative voters (81 per cent to 14 per cent) than Labour voters (74 per cent to 20 per cent) supported protection for the NHS in future trade deals, it is puzzling as to why a clear and concise Clause, with the unambiguous aim of protecting our greatest institution from exploitation, was rejected by our MP and members of the government.

After all time and again we have heard from the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary and a myriad of Conservative party ministers and MPs stating unequivocally that “Our NHS is not for sale!”

Why then has it been so difficult for them to put their words into actions?

The kick in the teeth for our NHS and its incredible staff who have fought bravely throughout this crisis to keep our hospitals safe, our essential services going and our loved ones protected, was compounded on the same day when the Chancellor confirmed the majority of nurses, care workers, junior doctors, hospital porters and cleaners were not to get an above inflation pay rise this year.

This further compounds the effective ten year stagnation of wages they, and the majority of working people, have suffered needlessly at the hands of austerity, something this government now thinks isn’t necessary but did only a few years ago for an equally damaging economic crisis.

Fundamentally, if the NHS is not for sale, Clause 17 and these pay rises would have been approved to meet the rhetoric.

Why weren’t they? Because ultimately, the Conservative party doesn’t believe in it.

It’s an anathema to its principles. The only legacy this government can take from the Clap for Carers moment is how they joined in merrily at the time only to slap those very workers in the face thereafter when it mattered.

Mark Popple
South Holland and the Deepings CLP

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