Use PFI for NHS services, says Widdecombe

3 Jun 99
The Private Finance Initiative must be applied wholesale to the National Health Service to ensure as many people as possible are treated, according to shadow health secretary Ann Widdecombe.

04 June 1999

In an interview with Public Finance this week, Widdecombe said the NHS would have to 'shed some of its burden' to the private sector or face the fact that an increasing number of treatments would not be available.

She said: 'The idea that PFI for buildings was ever going to deliver vast savings to the Treasury is rubbish. We need to have better partnerships with the private sector for the real provision of services.'

The Conservatives are looking at a number of options to improve the health service, including the introduction of health Tessas, which would allow people to save towards health treatments if they wished.

Widdecombe believes the public are now prepared for an increasing element of privatisation of the health service because they realise the NHS cannot do it all.

'I am not saying that we will not expand the NHS. I want to go on increasing spending year on year at a sensible level, but that will not be enough and I think people are now prepared to accept pretty radical options.'

Stressing that the Tories did not want complete privatisation, she accused Health Secretary Frank Dobson of having his head in the sand.

'This government will not face up to what is really going on,' she said. 'No amount of money will bridge the gap between the increasing demands on the health service without increased involvement from the private sector.


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