Outsourced NHS services ‘not privatisation’, says Hunt

30 Sep 14

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended the government’s use of private- and third-sector providers in the NHS as a way to improve the efficiency of the service.

Hunt told delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that providers from outside the health service helped ensure that taxpayer funds were well spent.

‘We mustn't stop new ideas that come from outside the NHS – whether from charities or, yes, the independent sector,’ Hunt said.

He criticised Labour for calling this use of external providers privatisation as ‘scaremongering’ that had nearly led to a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

‘Using a charity like WhizzKids to supply wheelchairs to disabled children or using Specsavers to speed up the supply of glasses is not privatisation,’ he said.

‘When the last Labour government used the independent sector to bring down waiting times that wasn't privatisation either.

‘So stop scaremongering about privatisation that isn't happening. It nearly cost us Scotland, and we won't let it poison the debate in England as well.’

Hunt also set out more details of the pledge by Prime Minister David Cameron for more GP surgeries to be open from 8am to 8pm on weekdays, and also on weekends.

As part of this promise, Hunt said that an extra 5,000 GPs would be trained, and that the link between patients and a single named doctor would be re-established under the new GP contract for 2015.

‘We urgently need to make it easier for busy, working people to get an appointment,’ Hunt said.

‘Last year we announced plans for 7.5 million patients to get weekend and 8-till-8 appointments. Today we have also announced we are rolling that out to millions more –meaning this service will be available for a quarter of the whole population.

‘And going even further, I commit that at the end of the next parliament a Conservative government will make sure every NHS patient across the whole country will be able to get weekend and 8-till-8 GP appointments.

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