GP leaders vow fight for NHS not over after Health Bill vote

The fight against the NHS reforms is not over, GP leaders have vowed, after the House of Lords did not back a call for the withdrawal of the Health Bill in a key vote on Wednesday.

Dr Vautrey: ‘There will be no change in [the BMA’s] strategy. We have been absolutely clear about what we want.'
Dr Vautrey: ‘There will be no change in [the BMA’s] strategy. We have been absolutely clear about what we want.'

After a two-day debate in the House of Lords, an amendment for the Bill to be scrapped was not supported by a majority of peers

A separate amendment calling for sections of the Bill to be submitted to a select committee for in-depth scrutiny was also not backed by peers.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said he was not surprised by the outcome of the votes, but he is still hopeful that the peers will demand substantial changes to the Health Bill during committee stage in the House of Lords.

He said the outcome of today’s vote does not impact on the BMA’s campaign for the Health Bill to be scrapped.

He said: ‘There will be no change in [the BMA’s] strategy. We have been absolutely clear about what we want.

‘This is simply the start of a long process of discussion in the House of Lords. We will continue to inform peers about what our concerns are, which will ultimately lead to substantial amendments to the Bill.’

Labour peer Baroness Thornton of Manningham also said the Bill still has a ‘long way to go in the Lords’.

She said: ‘The battle to save the NHS is not over yet. In some ways this is just the beginning...

‘Labour will work to ensure the widespread opposition to the government’s plans among health experts and patients groups will find its voice in those debates and we will work to make changes to the Bill.’
 
But GPC member and Medical Practitioner Union president Dr Ron Singer said Wednesday was a ‘sad day for the NHS’.

He said by not backing the call for the withdrawal of the Bill, the House of Lords has continued the passage of a ‘much hated and unnecessary Bill’ that will lead to the privatisation of the NHS.

He said: ‘This is a sad day for democracy and for the NHS. We have to face the fact that the NHS will now shrink in what it provides and that there will be a wholesale scramble to pick the bones of the NHS carcass by the private sector.’

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