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Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 14:26 GMT


Tories push for private medicine

Alan Duncan will champion the private sector

A Tory health spokesman will call for the private sector to be given a larger role in providing healthcare in the UK.

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation in London, shadow health minister Alan Duncan will point out that other countries spend proportionately more of their national income on healthcare because they have better developed private systems.

Mr Duncan will say that universal access to the NHS must be maintained, but he will call for a "larger public-personal mix in healthcare".

Mr Duncan is expected to say: "The truth is that the NHS cannot do everything. It quite simply does not and cannot treat every illness, see every patient, conduct every operation, supply every drug, cut every queue, and match every standard.

"But because of the sterile debate about healthcare in Britain, we are missing out on healthcare.

"We need more: we are entitled to more. It is time to say enough of not enough."

NHS a "top priority"

Mr Duncan will say the top priority must be to improve the NHS itself.

But he will add: "If we are to catch up with other countries, and deliver the standard of healthcare Britain deserves, we need to build a larger public-personal mix.

"We need to add a thriving personal sector to the public sector NHS we already have.

Mr Duncan will stress the Conservatives do not want to dismantle the NHS.

"Rather we want to build on it, add to it, supplement it, enhance it, and see it thrive over the next 50 years and beyond," he will say.

"We can keep people absolutely secure with the NHS they already have, and start in addition to open up a whole new world of healthcare which is currently being denied to people."

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