Many Britons have taken to social media to register their anger at the government’s Health and Care Bill after MPs passed a contentious motion on its second reading, with some claiming it will lead to further NHS privatisation.

On Wednesday evening, the governments Health and Care Bill passed through the House of Commons by 356 votes to 219. While the bill’s future impact on the National Health Service (NHS) is disputed, the movement from paying publicly owned trusts to private companies to provide services has stoked fears that the Tory government may further privatise the NHS.  

Following the vote, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas called on her supporters to join their campaign to scrap the bill, which she claimed “entrenches privatisation & does nothing to address the social care crisis.” 

Lucas was backed up by Labour MP and Corbynite Zarah Sultana, who said the Tory privatisation would “open the floodgates to cronyism, & incentivises cuts & closures.” She vowed to keep fighting against what she termed an “NHS Corporate Takeover Bill.” 

With #SaveourNHS trending on Twitter, many commenters jumped to slam Boris Johnson’s government. One person said they didn’t realise there could be a more “destructive” government than that of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who oversaw widespread privatisation, adding “Johnson’s government are evil, terrifyingly so. #ScrapNHSBill” 

While many criticised the government, others highlighted the nation’s hypocrisy, as the UK, one of Europe’s fattest and most alcoholic states, suffers immensely under the strain of alcohol- and obesity-induced illness. The government estimates that it spent over £6 billion on treating obesity related illness in 2014-2015, with around two-thirds of the UK’s adult population considered overweight or obese. In 2020, more than one million people in the UK were hospitalised due to obesity-related illnesses.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that the effect of UK alcohol consumption costs the NHS around £3.5 billion each year, marking a huge increase from the decade before when the spend was around £2.7 billion a year.

One person noted that while people were locked down to “save the NHS,” it’d be equally effective if people looked after themselves to stop them being unnecessarily hospitalised for being fat. 

Others concurred, one said the country is too soft on fat, claiming “obesity is crippling our NHS.” Another suggested the NHS stop treating fat people and save billions.

“How long before obese people are called selfish for putting a strain on the NHS?” one commenter asked, stating that the country should move from the Covid-19 track-and-trace system to fitness trackers. 

We “don’t need 107 new hospitals”, wrote one Twitter user, responding to a Labour MP who proposed new investments in the NHS, adding that the country should focus on preventing the UK from “being the most obese country in Europe.” 

Another person admitted to being a “big lad” and said it was his fault and he should foot the bill. “Obese people shouldn’t get anything from the NHS if they need it, They should be made to pay for it,” he wrote. 

The NHS has been at the centre of many policy discussions in recent months, following a year in which it was tested extensively by Covid-19. In June the government passed a new law that would ban the advertising of unhealthy food before 9am, although it won’t come into effect until the end of 2022. The law hopes to stamp out childhood obesity, which is also rife in the UK. 

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