The ConDem coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill is back in parliament the week starting 5th September.  As campaigners against the bill we are well aware that this legislation if passed begins the process for full-scale privatisation and consequent dismantling of the NHS.

This process has, however, already begun even before the bill is passed through parliament (so much for democracy). The massive £30 billion cuts made to the supposedly ‘ring-fenced’ NHS budget are biting hard.

Already the number of people waiting over 6 months for an operation has increased by 61% since June 2010.  PCTs are actively acting to reduce the range of treatments and operations available to NHS patients. Management consultants McKinsey drew up a list of such treatments as far back as 2009 – they include hernias and varicose vein operations, knee and hip replacements and cataract operations. These are all treatments the private sector wants to deliver to ‘paying customers’.

The sort of privitisation that the bill plans is already being implemented in several Health Authorities – Hitchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon is threatened with being handed over to private company – Circle Health, in Calderdale intensive care beds are being put out to tender, in Bassetlaw the same is happening to dermatology and musculoskeletal medicine. NHS Gloucestershire is pressing ahead with its attempt to hand over the entire Community Health Service to a ‘Social Partnership’.

The campaign against the bill has been a little quieter over the summer – riots, Libya, News International have taken the headlines.  The return of the bill to parliament is our opportunity to make sure the government & the bill’s consequences are highlighted and opposed again.

Unite the Union and Keep our NHS Public have planned protests for the 7th September, in London there will be a candlelight vigil outside parliament at 9.30pm and a protest earlier in the day.  There has been a call to have protests and events on the weekend before the bill is discussed throughout the country (see KONP site for details of local actions).

In Leeds we will be once again lobbying or LibDem MP Greg Mullholland at his Constituency Clinic on Saturday 3rd outside Sainsburys in Headingley from 10am onwards (so far he continues to plan to vote for NHS privatisation and hates us lobbying him).  On the 6th September from 4.30pm Leeds KONP will be holding a protest in City Square in the City Centre.

As the campaign ‘says on the tin’ let’s Keep Our NHS Public.

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