Labour NHS profit cap 'unworkable', warns GP election candidate

Labour plans to cap profits of private NHS providers do not go far enough, a GP election candidate has said.

Dr Irvine: 'A cap on private profits is unworkable.'
Dr Irvine: 'A cap on private profits is unworkable.'

South London GP Dr Louise Irvine, who is standing against health secretary Jeremy Hunt for the National Health Action party, said the plans announced by Labour last week were ‘unworkable’.

Launching his general election campaign on Friday, Labour leader Ed Miliband said money paid to the NHS should be spent on patient care, not excessive profits for private firms. 

‘We will cap the profits that private health companies can make from our National Health Service’, said Mr Miliband. The cap, he said, would normally be set at 5%.

A Labour party spokesman said the plans would not apply to GP providers. 

Dr Irvine, who led the successful campaign against the downgrading of Lewisham hospital, welcomed Labour’s commitment to reducing the role of the private sector but it did not go far enough. 

‘A cap on private profits is unworkable. It's easy for private companies to arrange their tax affairs so as to avoid registering profits’, said Dr Irvine.

Labour’s plans, she said, would not reverse the privatisation of services. 

Make the NHS the preferred provider for all NHS services

The BMA welcomed Labour's commitment to make the NHS the preferred provider for all NHS services and to prevent cherry picking the most profitable services.

Dr Irvine said Mr Miliband’s plans to increase NHS funding by £2.5bn a year - some of which will fund 8,000 new GPs were ‘well short of the £8bn that is the minimum that Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, says is needed to keep the NHS from collapsing’.

'Even that is predicated on £22bn of efficiency savings that are unrealistic and would push an NHS already in crisis over the cliff-edge’, she added.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said Mr Miliband's announcement 'falls far short of explaining how the NHS will plug the £30bn gap it faces by 2020'.

On Sunday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said for the first time that his party would fully fund Mr Stevens’ five-year plans.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr Hunt said he would announce the efficiencies he had found in the summer so a Conservative government knows how much it needs to find to plug the funding gap in the next spending review. ‘It might be more than £8bn, it might be less’, said Mr Hunt. 

The Liberal Democrats have said they would fund the full £8bn a year by the end of the next Parliament identified by NHS leaders. 

Last week NHS England announced the successful bidders for £350m of government funding for GP schemes.

Over 1,000 practices across England were awarded up to £5m to improve premises in the first wave of schemes to win support from the £250m-a-year NHS infrastructure fund.

Thirty-seven new pilot schemes involving 1,417 practices, were awarded a share of £100m from wave 2 of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund for improving GP access. 

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