The privatisation by stealth of the NHS that concerns Grahame Morris (Letters, 11 January) will become unstoppable unless his fellow MPs get a grip. From 1 April health services will be commissioned by GPs via clinical commissioning groups. Andrew Lansley promised all CCGs they would not be forced to subject services to competition, with the final word resting with commissioners. Polls show that more than four out of five people do not want the NHS to be privatised, so campaigners around the country have been asking their local CCGs to amend their constitutions to ensure that no services are offered to the private sector without first considering NHS options. Other amendments will prevent services being awarded to companies engaged in improper tax avoidance and, Grahame Morris please note, refuse to be bound by the Freedom of Information Act.
Cue the government, which, without fanfare, will be breaking Lansley’s promise this month by laying regulations before parliament allowing NHS money to be spent only on services procured through the competitive market, except for contract renewals. Also new rules have been brought forward that state that at least three health services have to be opened up each year to “any qualified provider”, whether the CCGs want this or not. The CCGs in Lewisham and Newham, together with 40,000 patients who signed a petition, opposed the closure of Lewisham A&E but have been over-ruled by the government-appointed administrator. Grahame Morris has urged people to lobby their MPs to sign his early day motion about binding private health contractors to the FOI Act. When lobbying their MPs, I urge people to press for the amendment of the section 75 regulations as well to allow patients to have a genuine say over their care and treatment, which the government says is what the changes to the NHS are all about. Under these changes, patients will be allowed to choose supposedly from a range of options bar the one that most of us want – treatment provided mainly by a publicly run NHS.