NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 7:17 pm on 16th January 2012.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health 7:17 pm, 16th January 2012

That was the policy of the previous Government, but the cap was clearly defined. It was a tight cap, and it reflected historical levels of work. What we are talking about is a liberalising measure to enable the private sector to double if not quadruple the amount of work that it is doing, which is why we are debating the motion.

I shall pose a question for the Health Secretary, who mentioned safeguards. If it is all fine to create a different NHS in which we have many more private contracts, might not the NHS risk register have something to say about the risks of creating such an NHS and the additional challenges of delivering health care through a system based on commercial contracts? Might it not lead to a diversion of spending on lawyers and consultants, away from patient care? Is not there not a great irony, as we have heard the Health Secretary bemoan a lack of ability to intervene in the recent situation while, at the same time, here he is promoting a Bill that removes his ability to do so on a much wider basis? He wants to hand over his ability to intervene to the independent NHS Commissioning Board. The irony of his position will not be lost on many people listening to the debate.