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Labour promises end to the ‘fixation on competition’

NHS would be ‘ringfenced as preferred provider’ – peer tells GPs

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 07 December 2012

A Labour government would end the ‘fixation’ on competition and ringfence the NHS as a preferred provider if elected in 2015, a Labour peer has said.

Shadow health minister Lord Hunt told a meeting of grassroots GP leaders in London last week that the party would seek to protect the NHS from EU competition law and put competition ‘back in its box’.

Lord Hunt told the British Medical Association’s local medical secretaries conference: “I don’t think we can afford a quasi-market. The name of the game has got to be hard integration, working together, based on the resources that we have.”

Huddersfield GP Bert Jindal challenged Lord Hunt, arguing that Labour, when in power, also had ‘an obsession’ with the private market and competition.

“What assurances do we have that Labour would not backtrack and take that up again?” he asked.

Lord Hunt said using the private sector to add capacity to drive down waiting lists was ‘very different to a philosophy that sees competition as a raison d’être’.

He added: “I would like … a situation where the NHS is always the first provider.”

He said Labour was developing its policy on health and would work with grassroots GPs, LMCs and the BMA.

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