AFTER a long battle over two days the foundation hospitals legislation was finally accepted by both the House of Commons and Lords last week.
A large majority of Co-operative MPs helped to keep the Health and Social Care Bill afloat in Parliament after the Government only scraped a majority of 17.
Twenty of the 30 Labour/Co-op MPs in Parliament backed Tony Blair's plans to give hospitals more freedom and to allow patients and staff a say in how hospitals are run. However, five Co-op MPs voted against the plans while five abstained. The total vote in the Commons was 302 for with 285 against ? 62 of those against were from the Labour Party.
Those who rebelled were Ian Davidson (Glasgow Pollok), Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton), Doug Naysmith (Bristol North West), Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton North East) and David Taylor (Leicestershire North West). Abstentions came from Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside), Linda Gilroy (Plymouth Sutton), Alan Keen (Feltham and Heston), Lewis Moonie (Kirkcaldy) and Andy Reed (Loughborough).
David Taylor has also signed an Early Day Motion, with 16 other MPs, which says: "The Government should not force on to the NHS an expensive, disruptive and time-consuming reorganisation that so few people want."
After receiving such a low majority the Bill was sent back to the House of Lords for further debate where peers finally accepted the legislation. Conservative peers argued that they did not want to risk losing the NHS reforms in the Bill that they were prepared to support.
Health Minister John Reid said: "This means the Government's massive investment in the NHS will be accompanied by substantial reform in the way healthcare is delivered.
"This Bill will lead to more patient power and choice. It means greater freedom for NHS staff to innovate to meet patient need."
A document from the Co-operative Party, sent a day before the crucial vote as a last effort to win votes, told MPs seven reasons why it supports plans for foundation hospitals and urged its representatives to vote for the legislation.
The Party's seven reasons to vote for the plans were it will be a health service owned by the people; NHS foundation hospitals empower patients; trusts empower staff; trusts are accountable; trusts reduce Whitehall dominance; trusts are dedicated to openness; and trusts have co-operative values.
A spokesman for the Party said: "The Party has sought to ensure that NHS foundation trusts live up to their billing as socially owned, locally controlled NHS bodies providing the best possible healthcare free at the point of use.
"We have carefully scrutinised the consultation plans published this autumn by the applicant trusts and is pleased that most trusts have sought detailed governance advice from experts in the mutual sector."
? Meanwhile Labour/Co-op Adrian Bailey for West Bromwich West has been elected chair of the Co-operative Parliamentary Group replacing Doug Naysmith. The group meets monthly to discuss co-operative and mutual issues. Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley) was elected vice-chair.