UK government accused of privatising the NHS

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 06 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:61
  1. Michael Day
  1. London

    The NHS was engulfed by a political storm last week after news that the Department of Health had placed an advertisement in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting private companies to set out their stalls on how they would run primary care trusts.

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    Health secretary Patricia Hewitt: “No question whatsoever of privatising the NHS”


    The advertisement raised the spectre of giant US healthcare firms being handed the bulk of the health service's £80bn (€120bn; $150bn) budget, and united doctors, MPs, and campaign groups in fury against the government, which they accused of “privatisation by stealth.”

    Ministers issued a retraction, insisting there had been “drafting errors.” It had only been seeking firms to provide expert advice to primary care trusts, and it would be up to local officials to decide if they wanted to use it.

    But this did little to placate health unions and opponents of private involvement in health …

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