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“NHS is being privatised without public say”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is calling for a halt to the privatisation of NHS services in England until after next year’s general election.

In a speech later, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham will say “privatisation is being forced through at pace and scale”.

He will say voters need a “proper debate” about the future of the NHS.

Labour argues the restructuring of the NHS, which came into force in 2013, led to privatisation by the back door.

This includes plans for the biggest outsourcing deal in NHS history which could see cancer care across Staffordshire privatised as part of a £1.2bn contract.

The Department of Health said that since 2010 a further 1.3% of the NHS budget was being spent in the private sector, with the total standing at about 6%.

In his speech, Mr Burnham will say: “Commissioners have been ordered to put all services out to the market, NHS spending on private and other providers has gone through the £10bn barrier for the first time.

“When did the British public ever give their consent for this?

“It is indefensible for the character of the country’s most valued institution to be changed in this way without the public being given a say.”

Mr Burnham has written to the boss of NHS England, Simon Stevens, to call for a pause in privatisation unless patient safety or service is at risk.

The government said Burnham was playing politics and pointed to his privatising instincts under the previous government, which introduced independent sector treatment centres and poly-clinics.

“Andy Burnham himself signed off the privatisation of Hinchingbrooke Hospital during Labour’s final year so it is pure political posturing to try to interfere with doctors making the best clinical judgements for patients,” said a spokesperson.

NHS Partners Network chief executive David Hare commented: “Private sector providers of NHS clinical services are an integral part of the modern health service and deliver extremely high standards of care.

“Depriving patients of the capacity and innovation brought by private sector providers would be a disaster for the NHS and prevent new models of care emerging. It is vital that local commissioners are enabled to make the decisions they feel appropriate for patients in their area and a crude restriction on a provider based on their ownership type would be very limiting for the NHS at a time of significant financial challenge.”

NHS England said most funding decisions were now being made by groups of GPs, in CCG structures,  who were empowered by NHS reforms.

Dr Steve Kell, one of the chairs of the group NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “I am quite clear that no clinical commissioning group [CCG] has a privatisation agenda.

“CCGs are independent statutory bodies with a clear focus to improve services for our patients – to stop clinical commissioners from signing contracts where a local need has been identified will leave gaps in local clinical services putting patients at risk.”

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2 Responses to ““NHS is being privatised without public say””

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    The simple fact is that, as currently funded, the NHS cannot meet the demands placed upon it.

    There does need to be a PROPER public debate – unsullied by party political dogma and mud-slinging. There are only two solitions: increase supply (money and staff) or decrease demand (restrict services). The debate should be about HOW we can, or should, do either or both.

  2. Julius Marstrand says:

    Andy Burnham and the Labour Party are being hypocritical. Many of the structures that have facilitated privatisation were put in place by New Labour – in particular the separation of Commissioners and Providers. They were also responsible for using Private Finance Initiatives to increase spending on the NHS.
    It is no coincidence the Coalition have apponted Tony Bliar’s chief advisor on the health service, Simon Stevens, as Chief Executive of NHS England. In the interim Stevens spent time as CEO of an American health care corporation.
    Unless Labour acknowledges the mistakes they made with the NHS, many supporters of a non-privatised NHS won’t trust them to save the NHS from further privatisation.

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