Tory warning over Labour pledge to make NHS 'provider of choice'

The government's commitment to the NHS as 'the provider of choice' has had a 'damaging and chilling' effect on some parts of the health service, according to shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Andrew Lansley denies that Labour's work to reduce waiting times will be reversed if targets are scrapped
Andrew Lansley denies that Labour's work to reduce waiting times will be reversed if targets are scrapped

Addressing the NHS Employers annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Lansley said that health secretary Andy Burnham's pledge that the NHS was ‘our provider of choice' would limit the potential offered by organisations like social enterprises.

‘I think its having a damaging and chilling effect on those social enterprises who are thinking that they can provide services to the NHS. We must look at who is best placed to provide the best care for our patients,' he said.

‘From my point of view, we are committed to an any willing provider policy.'

Mr Lansley denied that Labour's work to reduce waiting times will be reversed if targets are scrapped under the Conservatives.

‘I know of no evidence that supports 18 week as a target for reducing waiting times. What drives reduced waiting times is capacity and choice,' he said. 

Mr Lansley was also challenged by one delegate over Tory MEP Daniel Hannan's anti-NHS comments on US television in April. He said that the numbers of MPs in the Conservative Party who shared Mr Hannan's views were ‘tiny.'

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