Members of Parliament are to debate a demand that the government restores England’s publicly provided NHS by reversing all privatising legislation, including ending private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.

The debate, set for Monday (31 January), has been granted by the government after over 135,000 people signed a petition launched by Unite the union and Your NHS Needs You (YNNY) calling for the NHS to be renationalised.

The petition also demands that plans for integrated care systems – partnerships between organisations providing health and care across an area – be scrapped.

Unite, which represents over 100,000 health service workers across all occupations and professional groups, believes the Health and Care Bill, currently before parliament, will undermine access to care and universal standards by locking in privatisation and dividing the English NHS into 42 different pieces. 

This means that services will be available in some places but not others, creating a postcode lottery for treatments and making it difficult for patients to get the care they need. 

Monday’s debate comes ahead of February’s month of action on the Bill, which will see Unite, alongside campaign groups including YNNY and the newly formed SOS:NHS, put pressure on the government to stop the Bill and instead invest directly in our NHS.

Unite and YNNY are launching a series of actions targeting Tory MPs in ‘Red Wall’ seats who voted for the Bill and for NHS privatisation when it was in the House of Commons last November. Billboards will urge local residents to tell their MP to vote against the Bill this time.

Unite plans a day of action on 26 February, including stalls in target constituency high streets and outside hospitals, to highlight the tsunami of attacks the NHS is facing. 

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said:

“Securing this parliamentary debate is just one of the ways Unite has been leading the campaign to stop further privatisation of our NHS by the back door and to reverse the damage already done after decades of the private sector being handed lucrative contracts.  

“At a time when staffing levels are dangerously low, morale is at rock bottom and waiting lists are at all-time highs, we know our health service members want to work for the NHS and not for private companies, while members of the public using the NHS on a daily basis want their taxes to fund it and not line the pockets of shareholders.”

Jacalyn Williams, Unite national officer for health, said: 

“From the PPE VIP lane, to the government handing hundreds of millions of pounds to private health firms – despite even the NHS chief executive warning against using public money in this way – we know the Tories will use any and every opportunity to take money from our already struggling NHS and give it to their mates in the private sector.

“This isn’t about improving health care and quite simply boosts profits for private shareholders.

“With NHS waiting lists at a record six million in England, a staffing and funding crisis and the impact of the pandemic on an already struggling service, all of our focus must be on recovery and stability – our NHS cannot sustain the current level of attacks from this government and both staff and patients will suffer.”


Notes to editors:

Unite has been leading the fight for our NHS to protect our members and society and to defeat the Health and Care Bill

For more information please contact Unite senior strategic communications officer Jennie Walsh on 07958 514695. Unite press office is on 020 3371 2065.