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Your right to know what’s done in your name with your money

Padlock on keyboardOpenness, transparency, and accountability. These three values underpin the public service ethos, they are the foundation of good government and a healthy democracy.

As a taxpayer you have a right to know and to question how your money is being spent. However, your ability to question is being slowly eroded piece by piece as our public services are outsourced, fragmented and privatised.

While companies such as Atos, G4S and Serco become dominant in our public sector taking over multibillion contracts, the responsibilities of running a public service do not follow as companies hide behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality, and remain beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

The marketisation of our public services has been acutely felt by our NHS following the Government’s £3 billion top down reorganisation which has created a new democratic deficit in our health service. The promise of public involvement in the new clinical commissioning arrangement has not materialised, with patients and patient groups side-lined by commissioners, who are accountable to no one, imposing decisions, cuts and service reductions on the local community.

Due to the government’s policy of opening up public services, billions of pounds of NHS contracts are now being made available to the private sector via commissioners.

Since the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, 70 percent of NHS contracts have been awarded to private healthcare companies, many with past records of fraud, failure and criminality.

We lose our ability to question with each contract and every time a service is privatised as currently it is not possible to make private providers comply with freedom of information requests. The whole process is anti-democratic, the NHS and our public services belong to us, we use them and fund them, as such you have a right to know how your money is being spent, and to question those spending it.

The situation is untenable, and I have tabled a Private Members Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act to apply the action to all providers and bodies seeking health service contracts. The public have the right to question companies about any issue that would affect their ability to provide services, their performance during a contract as well as information about any penalties imposed on them by courts and regulators.

We need to end the practice of private healthcare companies receiving billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money under barely transparent contracts. In opposition, David Cameron was a strong advocate for extending the Freedom of Information Act to a range of publicly funded bodies. Unfortunately, now he is in power, the Prime Minister is refusing to address the issues caused by the outsourcing of public services.

In the coming weeks I will be asking him to honour his commitment and provide the public the right to know what is happening in our NHS, and return the principles of good governance – openness, transparency, and accountability to our public services.

Image copyright: winterling / 123RF Stock Photo

2 Comments

  1. Jeffery Davies says:

    But this has been their goal from day one taking from that pot of tax payers monies its never been about saving any has this is returned back to their mates companies who put a little back into their war chest and their jobs on these companies payroll it never was about saving any its the tax payers loss not them has they learned to put their monies into offshore accounts yes the poor pay for all their losses under the guise off austerity jeff3

    1. Robert says:

      Not forgetting of course ATOS G4S and Serco were all brought in by labour the same as Unum Provident and A4e and a bunch of others.

      The problem with attacking the Tories for doing the same dam thing as labour is totally rich.

      If tomorrow we voted in Miliband would these companies go of course not and would the NHS be save with Miliband if the yanks said to Miliband give us some of the NHS, Miliband would tell us it best for us he has to do what is best.

      labour Tory the difference well that’s the real question what is the difference.

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