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Controversial bill would end right to comprehensive health care, say academics

Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and public interest lawyers have made a detailed legal and policy analysis of the Government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

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Professor Allyson Pollock
Professor Allyson Pollock

In a paper published in the medical The Lancet, Professor Allyson Pollock and colleagues say the bill would pave the way for the introduction of a US-style health system by eroding entitlement to equality of health-care provision.

They say it ‘severs the duty of the secretary of state for health to secure comprehensive health care throughout England and introduces competitive markets and structures consistent with greater inequality of provision, mixed funding, and widespread provision by private health corporations.’

The bill is entering its final stages where it will be scrutinised in the House of Lords. The researchers call on peers to safeguard the NHS for future generations by ensuring that: 

  • The secretary of state must have the duty to secure provision of comprehensive and equitable health care for the whole of the population of England, taking action whenever there are problems, 
  • Clinical commission groups must make sure that comprehensive and equitable health care is available for everyone and be responsible for all residents living in single geographically defined areas that are contiguous, 
  • And nothing must be done that undermines the ability of the secretary of state to fulfil the duty to secure provision of comprehensive and equitable health care by bringing more of the NHS within the scope of EU competition law.
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