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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Labour party appears to be going backwards. Its 2010 manifesto said:

“We will support an active role for the independent sector working alongside the NHS in the provision of care”,

but tonight’s motion says that Labour has abandoned that policy. I quoted earlier the Labour party’s commitment to giving patients the choice of the best available provider. Its policy tonight is to abandon patients, including the 81% who told a survey that they want to exercise choice. Labour’s manifesto said it would give foundation trusts freedom to expand and increase their private services. It has now abandoned that policy.

Why does Labour do that? Why did it abandon those policies? Perhaps it is because the Labour party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the trade unions. Labour is interested not in patients or the NHS, but in the trade unions, because its policy is all about the protection of trade union interests—vested interests. The guarding of the vested interests is the remaining activity of the Labour party, but it will diminish over time.

Let me tell the shadow Health Secretary very simply what we are setting out to do. Under this Government, the power to choose will increasingly lie in the hands of patients, doctors and nurses, and incentives will encourage all providers to integrate their care and improve the quality of their care. The result is not a fragmentation of the NHS or inequalities, but better, higher-quality care, and integrated NHS care that offers everyone the very best care available. We will use choice—patients’, doctors’ and nurses’ interests in delivering that choice—and the best quality provision to deliver better outcomes for patients. That is why I urge the House to reject the Opposition motion.