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29 July 2014 | Paul Snell
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has called for a moratorium on the NHS signing any contracts for clinical services with private sector providers until after the 2015 UK general election.
Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh, said in a speech today there was no mandate or consent from the electorate for outsourcing services, and there was need for “a proper debate” about the future of the health service.
He said there would be an exception where there were issues of patient safety, or threats to service provision that need to be addressed urgently.
Burnham argued contracts were being signed that will run for the five years of the next Parliament, and beyond, which could affect a potential Labour administration following the election.
“This is not acceptable. Contracts like this will tie the hands of the next government in a crucial area of public policy,” he said.
“But, even worse, they are being signed without a mandate from the public. The Prime Minister was not up front about these plans at the last election. He needs to be reminded that he has never been given the permission of the public to put the NHS up for sale in this way. Further privatisation of services should not proceed until the public has had a proper say.”
The Labour Party cited a £1.2 billion cancer care contract in Staffordshire which will run for 10 years, and a five-year, £800 million contract for elderly care in Cambridge, and was critical of a reverse auction for medical staff, which it claimed "confirmed fears of a race to the bottom culture”.