At the Save the NHS Rally at Westminster’s central hall on 7th March 2012, Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said Labour would hold a Commons debate and vote on dropping the NHS reforms bill next Tuesday 13th March.
Andy Burnham’s speech:
This is the fight of our lives. We are facing a bill that breaks 63 years of NHS history. It legislates for a free market; no longer ‘One NHS’ but hospital pitted against hospital, doctor against doctor. It’s an attack on the N in NHS bringing a postcode lottery, longer waiting lists, damaging the doctor-patient relationship. We are doing everything we can to stop it.
170,000 people have signed an e-petition and yet the government has denied them a debate on this health bill. This why tonight I am announcing that Labour will give them that voice with a House of Commons debate and Drop the Bill vote next Tuesday.
But it’s not about party politics or point-scoring. The NHS is more important than that. We have built a new coalition of professionals, patients and people of all parties who feel the same as we do. The truth is that time is running out for the NHS. This bill could be passed in less than two weeks time. 2012; not remembered first and foremost as the year of the Olympics but the year they killed the NHS.
But if we pull together we can still change events. What is great about tonight is that it has brought together into one place all those folk that Nye Bevan spoke of with the faith to fight for the NHS. We must now meet that fight with energy, passion and determination. The government isn’t listening. So from this rally tonight let’s make our Drop the Bill call reverberate all the way to this weekend’s Lib Dem spring conference in Gateshead and so loud it shakes the foundations of parliament and Downing Street. Nothing matters more to me than the NHS. And if we stand together and fight together, we can still win.
Andy Burnham has also promised that if he became the Health Secretary he will repeal the bill.