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Burnham calls for halt to NHS ‘privatisation’


30 July 2014

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The introduction of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) was an “indefensible” change to the character of the health service made without public consent, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has argued. 
Burnham (pictured) believes the latest NHS restructuring has led to “privatisation being forced through at pace and scale”. 
Labour claims the public needs a “proper debate” about the future of the health service. 

The introduction of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) was an “indefensible” change to the character of the health service made without public consent, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has argued. 
Burnham (pictured) believes the latest NHS restructuring has led to “privatisation being forced through at pace and scale”. 
Labour claims the public needs a “proper debate” about the future of the health service. 
Burnham has written to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens to ask for a pause in privatisation unless patient safety is at risk. 
He  said: “Commissioners have been ordered to put all services out to the market, NHS spending on private and other providers has gone through the £10 billion barrier for the first time. 
“When did the British public ever give their consent for this? 
“It is indefensible for the character of the country’s most valued institution to be changed in this way without the public being given a say.” 
However, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair Dr Steve Kell said he is "quite clear” that CCGs do not have a privatisation agenda. 
He said: “CCGs are independent statutory bodies with a clear focus to improve services for our patients – to stop clinical commissioners from signing contracts where a local need has been identified will leave gaps in local clinical services, putting patients at risk.” 
The government said Burnham’s comments were “pure political posturing” from a party with a record of privatisation when in power. 
A government spokesperson told the BBC: “Use of the private sector by the NHS doubled in the last four years of Labour, a far bigger increase than under this government. 
“Andy Burnham himself signed off the privatisation of Hinchingbrooke Hospital during Labour’s final year, so it is pure political posturing to try to interfere with doctors making the best clinical judgements for patients.” 

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