MP calls for end to NHS reform ‘myths’

BOSTON’S MP has hit out at ‘myths’ surrounding controversial reforms to the NHS, after apologising for forgetting to mention an interest in debates on the bill last year.

Mark Simmonds spoke in support of the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday, and praised the treatment he has had at the Pilgrim Hospital during a House of Commons debate.

The debate centred on opposition calls for an internal assessment of the risks posed by NHS reforms to be published, wich the Government saw off last week.

Mr Simmonds, a former shadow health minister, supports the plans, which aims to give GPs more say over NHS spending and encourage more competition with the private sector.

Mr Simmonds said: “Certainly, some of the communicating that both Government parties need to do will be myth-busting on what is being portrayed as the future of the NHS and its services.

“They will be improved and enhanced, as will patient outcomes and services, as a direct result of the reforms that we hope to implement though the Health and Social Care Bill. They will not go backwards, as opposition members suggest.”

Mr Simmonds argued that competition through choice has always been part of the NHS and that the changes will give better integrated care for things such as chronic disease management.

Last Monday he apologised to the House of Commons for failing to register an interest during debates on the Government’s health reforms.

Mr Simmonds earns £50,000 a year in a 10-hour-a-month role with private healthcare provider Circle Healthcare – a fact shown on MPs’ register of interests.

However Mr Simmonds did not mention the fact – as rules state – when speaking in debates on the Health and Social Care Bill in January and March last year. He told the House he ‘inadvertently omitted’ to mention the matter and apologised.

Local Labour councillors have criticised Mr Simmonds’ support for the bill – which has encountered opposition nationally from the royal colleges of nurses and midwives.

Coun Paul Kenny, leader of Boston’s Labour group, said: “We have had 60 years of a very successful service that everybody respects and I don’t think we need a bunch of amateur politicians coming in and changing it.”

Mr Kenny warned that the issue of the NHS may ‘haunt’ Mr Simmonds at future elections.