Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has slammed the privatisation of the National Health Service and promised to put an end to the fragmentation of services if Labour makes it to the top in 2015.
Accusing the Conservatives of enforcing the "single biggest act of privatisation the NHS has ever seen", Burnham revealed that 398 NHS community services in England, worth a whopping £250 million, have been thrown into the bidding ring, with at least 37 private contenders amongst the winners.
"NHS privatisation is at a pace and scale never seen before. Be warned – Cameron’s Great NHS Carve-Up is coming to your community", he said, addressing the Labour conference yesterday.
"It’s not just community services. From this week, hospitals can earn up to half their income from treating private patients," he noted, adding "already, plans are emerging for a massive expansion in private work, meaning longer waits for NHS patients".
The news comes after GP Online recently reported that the Department of Health is planning on ramping up its any qualified provider policy this autumn by putting healthcare services in 39 different treatment areas out to tender.
Commenting on the privatisation of services, Burnham stressed that this "is not the choice of GPs, who we were told would be in control. But a forced privatisation ordered from the top".
And he vowed that the next Labour government will repeal David Cameron’s Health and Social Care Act. "We will stop the sell-off, put patients before profits, restore the N in NHS".
One for all
Delivering better services is not about new money, he argued, claiming "We can get better results for people if we think of one budget, one system caring for the whole person - with councils and the NHS working closely together".
Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund, said Burnham is "right to stress the need for fundamental change in health and social care services", but added that the "details of Labour’s plans are sketchy".
For example, "it is not clear how local authorities could take on the role of commissioning healthcare without further structural upheaval, he said, nor how Labour would ensure adequate funding for social care.