Burnley MP brands Unite claim that NHS at risk of privatisation as 'ultra-left wing rubbish'

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham has dismissed as "ultra-left wing rubbish" union claims that the NHS is at risk from privatisation.
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Burnley's Tory MP was responding to Unite's call to northern "Red Wall" Tory MPs to vote against a "toxic" NHS privatisation bill.

The union is targeting MPs in red wall seats, including Burnley, as part of a series of actions across England during its month of action on the NHS, which runs throughout February.

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From today, billboards, ad vans and bus stops will carry direct messages to voters in constituencies where their Tory MP voted for the Bill last year. Red wall seats have some of the longest NHS waiting times and unmet health needs, according to recent research.

Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

However, Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham said: "This is yet more ultra-left wing rubbish from Unite - a union that continues to think someone like Jeremy Corbyn would be best for this country.

"Every election Labour and the unions claim the NHS is at risk and every election it’s proven to be rubbish. Since 2010 the NHS has had a 40% increase in funding and I’m continuing to back it. From the elective recovery backlog through to the new Health and Care Act.

"This new legislation will put the NHS on a sound footing for the future, improving local patient care and reducing health inequality. That’s what residents expect and what I’m delivering."

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The advert campaign is a result of Unite joining forces with Your NHS Needs You and Diem 25 to highlight the impact the Health and Care Bill will have on our NHS.

The advert messages carry a picture of each MP and state: ‘Last year, your MP voted for NHS privatisation. This year, tell them to vote against the toxic Health and Care Bill.’

Unite members living in the constituency will receive an email asking them to contact their MP. Members also plan to hold street stalls in the same and further constituencies as part of the NHS day of action on February 26th.

The union believes the Health and Care Bill will be a disaster for healthcare services, resulting in further privatisation and cuts and reduced patient access to treatments.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "While our members and their families in England are being told to expect NHS waiting lists to rise for years to come, the government's priority is to pave the way for further disastrous privatisation. Every time private companies run NHS services they put profits before patients who pay the price.

“So, these Tory MPs ought to put their constituents before their private sector mates and vote to junk the Bill. Of course, it is unlikely they will, and Unite will have to continue to fight these big corporate money moves step by step inside the NHS.”