Opposition to taking NHS brand abroad is 'a new low for Labour'

Government hits back at claims its plans are 'rampant commercialisation'

Labour faced charges of hypocrisy yesterday after criticising government plans to export the NHS "brand" around the world to make money for hospitals in the UK.

The Independent revealed yesterday that ministers planned to set up a new body to help hospitals to launch fee-paying branches overseas. Labour described the plan as "rampant commercialisation" of the Health Service and called for it to be scrapped.

But it has now emerged that Gordon Brown's government tried to set up a profit-making arm called NHS Global to "maximise its international potential… and bring benefits back to the UK taxpayer".

Its purpose was to "market valuable assets across the system overseas, ranging from innovative products and professional expertise to provision of NHS services and treatments". However, it failed to take off and was quietly scrapped.

Yesterday the Government accused Labour of "campaigning against his own policy".

"Andy Burnham has sunk to a new low of political hypocrisy," the Health Minister Anne Milton said. "He has jumped on every passing bandwagon – now he is attacking the ability of hospital doctors to raise money for NHS patients. This knee-jerk opportunism would strip some NHS hospitals of up to £40m per year."

Jamie Reed, Labour's shadow Health Minister, said: "At a time when staff are losing their jobs and waiting times are rising, the Government's priority should be sorting out the mess it has created in our NHS. Under David Cameron we're seeing a rampant commercialisation of the NHS. He needs to get a grip and start focusing on patients, not profits."

Under the new plans, hospitals will be encouraged to set up profit-making branches abroad to raise funds for patients at home and raise the international profile of the health service. Officials from UKTI (UK Trade and Investment), the government-funded international trade facilitator, and the Department of Health will launch the joint scheme this autumn, which will aim to build links between hospitals wishing to expand and foreign governments that want access to British health expertise. The NHS Confederation, which represents hospital managers, has backed the move to set up the new body, which will be called Healthcare UK.

David Stout, who is the confederation's deputy chief executive, insisted the plan would not "divert attention away from local health services".

"This is a real opportunity," he said. "The NHS has always been well-regarded internationally; we've often had international companies and organisations coming to talk to the NHS about how can we help, but we've never been very systematic about how we respond to those opportunities. I don't think this is about distorting what the NHS offers to UK citizens, this is about how we can exploit the brand of the NHS internationally."

Tim Smart, the chief executive of King's College Hospital and a member of the network that represents NHS Foundation Trusts, said that it could provide valuable income at a time when central budgets are being constrained.

"In these harsh economic times, hospitals have to look for other sources of income beyond the NHS to make their services viable and sustainable," he said.

But the Patients' Association has raised concerns that pressing ahead with these plans to sell NHS services abroad could be a "distraction" at a time of upheaval in the health service at home.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam