A number of constituents have contacted me recently regarding the National Health Service Bill 2016-17, which received its first reading in the House of Commons on 13 July 2016.

I share the concerns of the many people who have written to me regarding this Bill about funding, privatisation and accountability in the NHS. Fundamentally, I agree that a comprehensive health service should continue to be provided free at the point of use, that encroaching privatisation of the NHS must be halted and that the Government needs to act now to address the financial problems that face the NHS. I believe that there needs to be more investment to provide the NHS and the social care sector with the funding it so desperately needs and has been starved of by the current Government.

One of the National Health Service Bill’s stated intentions is to re-establish the Secretary of State’s legal duty to the National Health Service in England. It should be a fundamental principle that the NHS – and any public service – is accountable and subject to scrutiny from elected representatives. Indeed, the manifesto I stood on at the last general election pledged to repeal the Government’s Health and Social Care Act, scrapping the competition regime and restoring proper democratic accountability for the NHS. The Opposition remains absolutely committed to this.

The National Health Service Bill 2016-17 was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill on 4 November under the Ten Minute Rule and as such, it was subject to the constraints associated with the parliamentary timetable. It was third on the order paper for that day and was not debated. The Bill will be returning to the House on Friday 24 February, and I will follow its progress closely.

The Opposition is committed to protecting and strengthening our NHS and that means stopping the drive towards privatisation and ensuring an NHS based on collaboration and integration, not on competition and fragmentation.

I can assure my constituents that I will stand up for the NHS in Parliament and oppose all damaging cuts. Moreover, I am confident that the Opposition will continue to develop plans to strengthen and improve the NHS.

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