Burnley Labour group fear NHS reforms will mean privatisation of health service

A MOTION put forward by Burnley’s Labour group to propose the scrapping of the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill has been rejected by councillors.

At the latest meeting of Burnley Council, group leader Coun. Julie Cooper called on the council to write to the Prime Minister urging him to abandon plans for the new legislation.

Coun. Cooper said: “This council believes the Health and Social Care Bill is not in the best interests of the people of Burnley and Padiham.

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“The bill, which represents the biggest reorganisation in the history of the NHS, will cost £2 billion, will mean more public bodies and more money spent on bureaucracy and will put the future treatment and well-being of patients in the hands of competition lawyers.

“This council resolves to write directly to the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary urging them to scrap the Health and Social Care Bill and calls on the Member of Parliament for Burnley to speak and vote against the Health and Social Care Bill in Parliament.”

Coun. Cooper said profits would become more important than patients if the bill was introduced. “Do you really want our doctors to become accountants?,” she said.

But the majority of councillors voted against the motion and Lib-Dem Coun. Tracy Kennedy said it was primary care trusts, brought in under the Labour Government, which allowed the transfer of Burnley General Hospital’s accident and emergency department to Blackburn.

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“For the Labour group to have the cheek to put down this motion after what happened to the NHS during their time in power is inexcusable and laughable,” she said.

Fellow Lib-Dem Coun. Margaret Brindle said the motion was “vacuous and disingenous.”

The town’s MP Gordon Birtwistle added: “I think it’s important to read the motion as it is. It’s OK being against everything but what are Labour proposing as an alternative?”

He said he too had been against parts of the bill at the outset but after amendments made following the Lib-Dem party conference he said it was now the way forward.

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He cited the loss of Burnley’s accident and emergency department and Deerplay children’s ward as examples where the current system had failed residents.

But Labour Coun. Andy Tatchell said the bill was a way for the Conservatives to privatise the health service. “The Tories have always wanted to privatise the NHS. Even Margaret Thatcher never took that risk but it seems David Cameron wants to take the risk,” he said.