Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ministers accused of 'disguising purpose of NHS plans'

Shadow health secretary John Healey has accused the government of "deliberately disguising the true purpose" of planned changes to the National Health Service.

Ministers intend to hand powers to commission services for patients to GPs, who will be given responsibility for around 80% of the NHS budget.

But at question time on 25 January 2011, Mr Healey predicted that GPs would contract out the administrative role.

He said: "If they are going to carry on being family doctors then planning, negotiating, managing and monitoring hundreds of commissioning contracts is not going to be done by GPs, it will be done in their name, either by the people doing it now in primary care trusts or by big health companies that are already hard selling this service to new GP consortia."

The shadow health secretary concluded that the government's plans would "open up all parts of the NHS to big private healthcare companies".

But Health Secretary Andrew Lansley defended the changes, arguing that they would improve quality across the NHS.

"The purposes of the bill are very clear to see, for example the duty to improve quality and raise standards throughout the health service," he said.

"What I hope you will acknowledge is that putting clinical leadership at the heart of this is essential. Leadership is not the same thing as management."

He added: "We are going to support them in taking clinical leadership in designing services for patients and bringing the best management support to bear in doing that."


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