Private sector NHS role must be very limited, shadow health secretary tells Labour conference

The private sector should be allowed to provide NHS services only in very limited circumstances, Labour's new shadow health secretary has said.

Labour shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander: NHS privatisation warning
Labour shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander: NHS privatisation warning

Heidi Alexander, who was appointed by the party's new leader Jeremy Corbyn two weeks ago, told a meeting at Labour's annual conference in Brighton that private providers could continue to play a role in the NHS, but only in 'very, very limited circumstances'.

Ms Alexander told the Health and Care Forum fringe event in Brighton that while not for profit or third sector providers could continue to provide services, there was a 'real difference' between them and the private sector.

'I believe there is a deep cynicism out there among the public about the involvement of private companies in the delivery of NHS services,' she said.

People wanted to know tax money was going into care and not shareholders' pockets, Ms Alexander said.

NHS privatisation

But, she added: 'If there is a case where private sector involvement in very, very limited circumstances can reduce waiting times and capacity, and it offers value for money ... I think in a very, very limited set of circumstances it's justifiable.'

She described a situation where a private hospital could provide treatment for the NHS more quickly than an NHS provider.

'In those sorts of situations there is a role for the private sector,' she said.

Ms Alexander, who was a leading figure in the campaign against the downgrading of services at Lewisham hospital in her south-east London constituency, said health secretary Jeremy Hunt does not see 'any limit to the involvement of the private sector in the NHS.'

She indicated the new leadership would continue some of the policies of her predecessor Andy Burnham. Ms Alexander said she supported the repeal of the controversial section 75 of the health and social care act which regulates the tendering of NHS services.`

She described Mr Burnham's 'whole person care' policies to integrate the health and social care systems as a 'fantastic starting point' and 'foundation' to work from. Integrating services, she said, would be a priority for her.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Government stripped of power to suspend pensions for doctors facing unproven charges

Government stripped of power to suspend pensions for doctors facing unproven charges

Controversial powers allowing the government to suspend pension payments for doctors...

RCGP pulls plug on oil and gas conference after protests

RCGP pulls plug on oil and gas conference after protests

The RCGP has cancelled an oil and gas exploration conference booked to take place...

BMA to hold special conference after GP leaders reject 2020 contract offer

BMA to hold special conference after GP leaders reject 2020 contract offer

GP leaders have voted to hold a special conference after rejecting a package of contract...

Promise of 6,000 more GPs 'a pipedream' without investment, NHS leaders warn

Promise of 6,000 more GPs 'a pipedream' without investment, NHS leaders warn

Government promises to deliver 6,000 more GPs and 50m appointments are no more than...

Flu tracker: How flu levels are affecting GP workload across the UK

Flu tracker: How flu levels are affecting GP workload across the UK

Flu levels have spiked early in the 2019/20 season. Keep track of how levels of the...

Pension tax plan 'will fail to solve NHS workforce crisis', BMA warns

Pension tax plan 'will fail to solve NHS workforce crisis', BMA warns

BMA leaders have warned that raising the income threshold at which tax on pensions...