Help save our NHS


The hot topic in Westminster this week is, once again, the NHS.

Not surprising, perhaps, given that the NHS is facing the biggest financial challenge in its history and, at the same time, the government has launched the biggest top-down reorganisation since 1948.

It is widely acknowledged that this combination of events has exposed the NHS to greater risks. But we do not know the government’s own assessment of these risks to the quality, safety and efficiency of health services because they are refusing to release the Department of Health’s risk assessment associated with the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Information Commissioner has ruled that the Department of Health should release its risk register, which is used to manage risks associated with the transition and modernisation of the NHS. But the government is fighting against this.

That is why Labour MPs used a debate this week to demand that government publish the report. It is crucial that MPs and Peers have all relevant information available to them before making final decisions on this controversial bill.

For months now, doctors, nurses and many others who provide the care we depend on have been telling the government to change course. Even Parliament’s own health watchdog committee – chaired by a former Conservative Health Secretary – has criticised the government’s plans.

When ministers are telling hospitals and clinics around the country to cut £20m from their budgets, it just makes no sense for the same ministers to spend millions on a wasteful upheaval that people don’t want. In South Birmingham alone the cost could be a whopping £25m.

It’s a waste of money that should be going to help patients instead.

We don’t have to put up with it. At the end of last year a community GP, Dr Kailash Chand, set up an e-petition calling on the government to ‘Drop the Bill’. You can read the petition online here and add your name to the calls for the government to change course and put the NHS first.

Many years ago, Labour’s founder of the NHS said there would be an NHS “for as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”.

It was true then and it remains true today so I’m asking for your help. Please sign the e-petition and together we can fight for the government to Drop the Bill.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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