Health question on private provision

Hospital picture with link to HansardI had a supplementary health question yesterday on private and independent provision within the NHS which I think sheds some light on Labour’s actions and attitude:

Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab): What recent meetings he has had with representatives of the private health care sector.

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): In the past three months, I have had two meetings with private sector health care providers, both in China, helping them to win export orders. In the same period, I have had 20 meetings with traditional NHS providers.

Ian Lavery: Private health companies with strong links to the Conservative party have been awarded contracts to run NHS services worth about £1.5 billion, which surely raises serious questions about the level of influence of Conservative donors on health policy. In the interests of transparency, will the Secretary of State commit to publishing a list of private health care companies that have made donations to the Conservative party?

Mr Hunt: The difference between donors to the Conservative party and donors to the Labour party is that our donors do not write our policies. While we are talking about private sector health care providers, I remind the hon. Gentleman what an unnamed shadow Cabinet Minister told The Independent last week:

“We all remember when Andy was Health Secretary and happily contracting out bits of the NHS to the private sector… You have to ask yourself what’s changed.”

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): The NHS diagnostic centre in Wycombe, which is operated by the private sector, does a fantastic job. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating and thanking Opposition Members for all that they did to extend private and independent provision in the NHS?

Mr Hunt: I am happy to do that. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that in the last four years of the last Government, private sector contracts in the NHS doubled—something that this Government have not been able to match. It is important to look at the facts before we start any hares running with respect to privatisation.

And I was interested indeed to know that. How quickly history is rewritten by those who wish to forget.

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Comments & Responses

2 Responses so far.

  1. ArtNexa says:

    The fact that the hospital has been closed in Wycombe to anyone with a condition more serious than a paper cut means that I nearly died not too long ago, because they were unable to treat an asthma attack.

    Maybe your focus should be on things like this, rather than congratulating yourselves for selling off parts of the NHS. I don’t care which party did what when, putting blame on others and dodging questions solves what, exactly? It just makes you look weak – like you are trying to distract people from your massive problems by constantly pointing the finger elsewhere.

    Also, privatisation does not always = better. Just look at Atos. I am so shocked to see that they were given another health-related contract after harassing and pushing many vulnerable people to breaking point. You need to get your priorities in order.

    You can start by fighting clause 118 of the Care Bill. You are always advocating for a less invasive state. Does it seem right to you that the state will be able to come on in and close down hospitals without engaging with the people?

    • Steve Baker says:

      Heart attack and stroke are treated at Wycombe and they are big killers. In due course, I hope some of the work I have done this week will enable much more to be possible but, in the meantime, I have reminded my opponents of their record.