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NHS (Private Sector)

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:07 pm on 16th January 2012.

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Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Labour, Blaydon 9:07 pm, 16th January 2012

Of course, the reality is as envisaged by my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State, who has accepted that there is a role for the private sector within the health service, but the debate is about how big it should be and how much control there should be of the health sector. [Interruption.] May I carry on?

As I was saying, Nye Bevan responded to Churchill’s criticism by saying:

“Who should be called the Minister for Disease? I am keeping mothers and children alive when he half starved them to death.”

That is the legacy with which the Conservative party is lumbered. It is the burden round the neck of Conservative Members when people of this country get worried about private involvement in health care. I have no doubt that Conservative Members will not agree with me, but it was right and proper when my right hon. Friend Andy Burnham drew an analogy between this privatisation and that of the utilities. We should look at the results of those privatisations: unfettered and uncontrolled expansion, with our energy supplies now controlled by foreign companies; huge, uncontrolled price increases; millions of people in fuel poverty; no control over the security of supply; a national grid not fit for purpose; and an incoherent strategy to face up to the challenge of climate change. Those are all the result of giving away our vital services to the highest bidder. People are quite right to say, “Why would it be any different in health?”

The people of this country do not want the NHS to become a copycat version of the American model—a model that costs twice as much as ours to run, yet leaves 20% of the population out in the cold when they are ill. Our NHS has a tremendous track record, dealing with millions of people every week. Our life expectancy levels have risen rapidly, especially over the period when the previous Government reversed the years of underfunding that were the trademark of the last Tory Government. Public satisfaction rates were at record levels when we left office 18 months ago.

This present Government have broken their promise to the British people. They have lied to the staff who work magnificently to deliver our NHS. They are intent on breaking up the NHS and replacing it with a system based once again on a programme that puts profits before patients. If Conservative Members really believe in privatisation, they should ask the people what they want. The people have woken up to the reality of the Conservative party; they realise that once again the NHS is not safe in Tory hands—even though they are wearing the yellow gloves provided by the Liberal Democrats. Patients, as the figures clearly show, want no further privatisation of our NHS.