A former Bishop of Birmingham has condemned the Government’s NHS changes and warned that Ministers have no mandate for them.
John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, spoke out in the House of Lords as peers backed controversial changes to Britain’s health system.
Dr Sentamu, who served as Bishop of Birmingham from 2002 to 2005, highlighted the “excellent treatment” he had received from the NHS for a range of conditions - and said he doubted that the Government’s plans would improve hospitals.
The Health and Social Care Bill will abolish trusts which currently buy health care from hospitals and allow GPs and other medical staff to commission health care directly. It will also create more competition inside the NHS by encouraging private providers to offer treatment.
Dr Sentamu said he had been treated for salmonella in 2008, and had his appendix removed later that year. He went to hospital again this year for treatment to his shoulder and mouth.
Speaking in the House of Lords, he said: “The Bill has no mandate. It was not in the manifesto. It will not do simply to repeat the statement that it was in the coalition agreement. Joe and Jane public did not vote on it.
“That is why there is anxiety in the nation and that is why there is a lot of worry about it.”
But his plea to delay the Bill to allow further consultation went unheeded as peers rejected by a margin of 330-262 an attempt by former SDP leader Lord Owen to refer it to a special committee.
Speaking in the same debate, Conservative former health secretary Lord Fowler, former MP for Sutton Coldfield, warned it would be “unacceptable” for peers to block the legislation, warning: “Unless we are careful, we will leave the health service in uncertainty about the future.”
Birmingham peer Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Labour’s deputy leader in the Lords, said: “The scale of concern, the scale of mistrust amongst the NHS and amongst the public is greater than I have ever known it before.”