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

No, I am going to move on. There has to be time for people to contribute to the debate, so I do not want to go on for too long.

The Health and Social Care Bill will, for the first time, ensure that private and voluntary sector organisations have to meet the same exacting standards and be regulated in exactly the same way as NHS organisations when they provide NHS services. Because that extends to any organisation providing NHS services, whether it be private or voluntary, it is disingenuous at best and possibly disreputable for the right hon. Member for Leigh to draw any comparison with the PIP breast implants scandal. There is no comparison between the position of a private company working in the private sector providing private services and the role of a private company operating inside the NHS under NHS controls. He knows that there is no comparison. In the NHS, the patient will be wholly protected. It is our intention to ensure for the first time—this did not happen under the Labour Government—that when a private sector provider operates in the NHS, it has to provide equivalent indemnities to its patients as would be provided through the NHS. That did not happen when the independent sector treatment centres and other things were brought in. There will be better protection. The private sector operating outside the NHS is a different matter.

Myth No. 3 is that raising the cap on private income will lead to a worse deal for patients. The paradigm example is the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Its private patient cap is set at 31%. That is because in 2002, 31% of its income was derived from private sources and that was the basis on which it became a foundation trust in 2004. Its current private patient income is 25.8% of its total income. The fact that it has a cap does not mean that it goes up to it. In fact, its private patient level has come down slightly. The effect of setting the cap at 10%, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Leigh, would be to take about a fifth out of the income of the Royal Marsden. The Royal Marsden, like Great Ormond Street, is a classic example of how having a thriving private income from research, joint ventures and patients coming from overseas can get a hospital to a place where it can also consistently be recorded as one of the most excellent hospitals in the NHS, where NHS patients get the best care. It has on one hand the highest level of private patient activity—or, strictly speaking, private income—and on the other hand the highest standard of NHS care. The two things are entirely compatible.