Halt NHS privatisation, says Labour's Burnham

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Labour has called for the NHS in England to stop privatising services until after the general election.

In a speech, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said "privatisation is being forced through at pace and scale".

He said voters needed a "proper debate" about the future of the NHS.

The government called this "pure political posturing" from a party with a record of privatisation when it was in power.

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%.

Andy Burnham says 'NHS is based on people, not profits'

In his speech, Mr Burnham said: "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.

However, NHS England said most funding decisions were now being made by groups of GPs, who were given the purse-strings in the NHS reforms.


A government spokesman said Mr Burnham was playing politics and pointed to his record of privatisation while he was health secretary in the last Labour government.

"Use of the private sector by the NHS doubled in the last four years of Labour, a far bigger increase than under this government.

"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."

Healthcare team of nurses and doctors

Matt Tee, chief operating officer of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS Trusts, said the argument should be about what is right for patients.

He said: "Our members are very clear that there are plenty of things which keep them awake at night, but contracting is rarely cited as one of them."

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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  • rate this

    Comment number 828.

    The N.H.S. free !!!!! this is the biggest laugh of all !! free ? our kids,kids are being loaded up with the tax that will be needed to pay for this free ! it is without doubt a scandel ! its is free by the way. to all and sundry except one group ? yep that would be the tax payer !

  • rate this

    Comment number 827.

    We have already paid and are paying for the NHS. Why are the Labour party dumbing down and apparently saying we should stop privatisation until AFTER the general election.

    The whole point is the majority of people in this country do NOT want the NHS privatised anyway - you idiots. Before or after an election (That I hope is not won by either the ConDems or Labour factions)

  • rate this

    Comment number 826.


    Foprget the economy, we have been in recession for at least the last 30 years. the only things creating "growth" are the constant rise in the defecit and quantitative easing. Just goes to show how uninformed most voters are that human and environmental issues are largely overlooked on ballot day because everyone jsut wants to be able to "buy more stuff".

  • rate this

    Comment number 825.

    812.Beyondcorruption - Sliced my thumb open in Spain, had no travel insurance, cost me 300 euro. I had to pay, there was no free service

    You chose to pay. You're covered for free care within the EU. Just like the thousands of holiday makers getting their stomachs pumped & drunken injuries tended to every day, every year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 824.

    810 AC - no 1st tier nation would copy the NHS because they all have more sense.

    However, they aren't so suspicious of the profit motive that they only advocate failed statist approaches.

    Mostly the european countries have either free or insurance provided entitlements on the front end with mixed public & private organisations providing the services.

    Not rocket science

    It works

  • rate this

    Comment number 823.

    786.its not rocket science

    You forgot to mention that when the Tories set up NHS hospital trust one of the first thing they did was sell off all there spare land and buildings and the government claimed most of that money from the trusts

  • rate this

    Comment number 822.

    "Sliced my thumb open in Spain, had no travel insurance, cost me 300 euro.
    I had to pay, there was no free service."
    You are entitled to a free EHIC which entitles you to free or highly subsidized healthcare everywhere in Europe.


  • rate this

    Comment number 821.


    Sarah each NHS Trust has to decide how to provide it's services to patients whilst attempting to keep the best possible care levels, this means some services they may decide are more effective when outsourced. This is NOT new, it has been going on since day 1 of the NHS, it is NOT privatisation, it is getting best value for money and care.

  • Comment number 820.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 819.

    808. Taffyman

    Sorry for your loss,

    Putting the information on the headboard might have been more effective as they do with the 'nil by mouth' signs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 818.

    The point of the NHS is that it is free at the point of delivery. There are several things that the private sector can do better than the public sector and vice versa.

    Each time a tender goes out, the patient interest should come first, then the cost, then the means of delivery.

    Labour understood this when in power, and in many cases (PFI hospitals), completely messed it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    I'm a GP. My local CCG is privatising a lot of things and not giving ordinary GPs or local people any say in the matter.
    I am sorry but i can't see the issue here, if the patient gets the treatment they require, without paying for it at source, and the tax payer gets the best value for the money, who really cares who is giving the treatment.

    Not the patient,which is the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 816.

    Private health care systems are more expensive than the NHS, which was one of the best value health care systems in the World. The Tories and LibDems don't care about best value or best care, they just don't like the ideology of the NHS (a state system). A privatised health service will be more expensive in the longrun. My local CCG is using private companies where the care is cheap and nasty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 815.

    Labour always use the NHS as a political football at general election time as they mistakenly think it is one of their ace cards, forgetting that it is all about the economy for the majority of voters.

    Why should this time be any different?

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.

    Just look at the editors' (plural) picks

    Absolutely against public opinion.

    The NHS (we already pay for it - remember national insurance BBC?) is OWNED already by every person in the UK.

    What utter nonsense of any political party to try and privatise any of it.

    What is this latest ploy by Labour and the ConDems?

    Let's see how we can soften public opinion by half truths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 813.


    White collar crime is not treated as a serious crime because it is more likely to be committed by those in power or have friends in power
    most of our laws and punishments want rewriting from the start as the present laws have only been amended at the whim of the government of the day and leave so many loopholes in them this why people who commit such crimes can do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 812.

    Sliced my thumb open in Spain, had no travel insurance, cost me 300 euro.
    I had to pay, there was no free service. After workig in Spain for 9 yrs then the crash happened, found my contract did not cover help with anything. Can i claim my tax/IVA back? NOPE.
    Charge those who have not paid in, very simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 811.

    Like many Tory projects the NHS restructuring would look less dodgy if so many of the private companies benfitting did not have close links to senior figures in the Conservative government.

    Its like their not even bothering to go through the motions of covering up their nepotism anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 810.

    The NHS for too long has been a political sacred cow that in its present form continues to squander millions if not billions. I cannot identify a single '1st tier' nation that has copied our NHS for its own health services - now why is that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 809.

    794.Henry Hazlitt
    If you have animals, you can protect them.


    He also tells us that they have no protection from torture. Is UK wrong to ban such torture?


    Do you want the same folks shielding corporate officers


    Nobody should be shielded from their deliquency, Unfortunately, their lawyers don't see that.


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