NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 16th January 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Secretary of State for Health 8:03 pm, 16th January 2012

There will not be any transfer of responsibility for services from the NHS to the private sector; the NHS will continue to be responsible. The balance in the NHS—[ Interruption. ] No, I shall answer the right hon. Gentleman’s point. He is trying to interpret “privatisation” as every service currently provided by an NHS provider being provided by an NHS provider in the future, but whether services are provided by the NHS or by a private enterprise, a social enterprise or a charity will be determined by patients choosing who is the best-quality provider. So that is not privatisation; the service remains free, and it remains an NHS service. It is guaranteed to patients in exactly the same way, and there is no presumption in the legislation—in fact, it excludes any presumption—in favour of a private sector provider as against an NHS provider.

The right hon. Gentleman is in absolutely no position to make any criticism of that, because he served in a Government who introduced independent sector treatment centres. They went through the process of giving the private sector contracts that were not available to the NHS, with an 11% higher price on average and a guarantee that they would be paid even if they did not necessarily provide the treatment. The net result was £297 million spent on operations that never took place, and the private sector walked away with that money, so he is in absolutely no position to make any criticism, because we are going to exclude such practices. The contracts that the Labour party gave to the private sector when he was a Minister are exactly the contracts that our legislation will exclude.