Labour stands up to Hunt’s ‘secret’ bid to destroy the NHS

Corbyn Labour NHS
Fréa Lockley

On 6 December, Labour called an Early Day Motion to debate the use of Accountable Care Organisations in the NHS. Accountable Care Organisations signal increased privatisation, and lack of accountability.

The government has been accused of keeping Accountable Care Organisations “secret”. So this move aims to put them firmly in the spotlight. But if not stopped, they could signal the end of the NHS as we know it.

What’s an Accountable Care Organisation?

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said:

Accountable Care Organisations originate in the US and will, according to campaign group Keep Our NHS Public:

Fundamentally change the NHS and involve a radical reorganisation of health and social services in England. They will have control over the allocation of NHS and taxpayers’ money.

But also worrying is the lack of financial accountability:

Their accountability for spending it and their obligations to the public will be under commercial contracts, not statutes.

Professor Allyson Pollock is part of a group pushing for a judicial review about Accountable Care Organisations. She said they:

Involve government and private insurers awarding large contracts to commercial providers to run and provide services.

Jon Ashworth said Accountable Care Organisations were “potentially the biggest change which will be made to our NHS for a decade”. But so far, there has been no public consultation about them.

Consultation?

The Conservative government has introduced plans for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) across the NHS. The Canary gave a detailed analysis of STPs here. Critics have described STPs as a “wish-list for privatisers”.

NHS England announced a plan for Accountable Care Organisation consultation in 2018. But some areas have seen a move to Accountable Care Organisations ahead of this. And as Pollock said:

If Hunt’s changes are brought in before then, the legal framework would facilitate ACO contracts to be introduced before the public consultation.

In some areas, STP consultations have justified early implementation of Accountable Care Organisations, according to documents seen by The Canary.

Brutal truth

The push from Labour for this Early Day Motion is vital. Because Accountable Care Organisations threaten the core principles of the NHS.

The Canary has seen documents that explain the full implications of Accountable Care Organisations. Health care professionals explained that NHS providers are currently paid for activity; the more they do the more they earn. But Accountable Care Organisations are paid per head to provide health care. And this means the less they provide, the more surplus or profit they make.

This is the brutal truth of the plans Jeremy Hunt and the Tories have for our NHS. We must act now.

Get Involved!

Support the fight to oppose Accountable Care Organisations.

Featured image via Fréa Lockley for The Canary

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