The NHS Reinstatement Bill
Leading public health experts and legal experts, in consultation with a range of individuals and organisations, drew up an NHS Reinstatement Bill, first tabled in Parliament in July 2016.
The Bill was part of a move to stop the dismantling of the NHS as a result of the HSC Act (2012) and to end the marketisation of the NHS. The Bill aimed to restore the NHS as an accountable and comprehensive public service.
Among its measures it intended to:
- reinstate the government’s legal duty to provide the key NHS services throughout England, including hospitals, medical and nursing services, primary care, mental health and community services,
- integrate health and social care services,
- declare the NHS to be a “non-economic service of general interest” and “a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority”. This would ensure the autonomy of the UK government to legislate for the NHS without being trumped by EU competition law and the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services,
- abolish the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England) and re-establish it as a Special Health Authority with regional committees,
- plan and provide services without contracts through Health Boards, which could cover more than one local authority area if there was local support,
- allow local authorities to lead a ‘bottom up’ process with the assistance of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and NHS England to transfer functions to Health Boards,
- abolish NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and CCGs after the transfer by 1st January 2018,
- abolish what was Monitor – the regulator of NHS foundation trusts, commercial companies and voluntary organisations – and repeal the competition and core marketisation provisions of the 2012 Act,
- integrate public health services, and the duty to reduce inequalities, into the NHS,
- re-establish Community Health Councils to represent the interest of the public in the NHS,
- stop licence conditions taking effect which have been imposed by Monitor on NHS foundation trusts and that will have the effect of reducing by April 2016 the number of services that they currently have to provide,
- require national terms and conditions under the NHS Staff Council and Agenda for Change system for relevant NHS staff,
- centralise NHS debts under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the Treasury, require publication of PFI contracts and also require the Treasury to report to Parliament on reducing NHS PFI debts,
- abolish the legal provisions passed in 2014 requiring certain immigrants to pay for NHS services
- declare the UK’s agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and other international treaties affecting the NHS to require the prior approval of Parliament and the devolved legislatures,
- require the government to report annually to Parliament on the effect of treaties on the NHS.
On 11th July 2018 Eleanor Smith MP was due to present a Labour Party Bill in Parliament to restore the NHS, based on the NHS Reinstatement Bill. This was withdrawn at the last moment for procedural reasons. The Labour Party is now consulting with healthcare campaigners and others, and is apparently committed to introducing its own Bill, embodying the principles of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, in the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government.