Private health sector would be expanded under Tories

Click to follow

Patients would have the right to be treated at the hospital of their choice and the private health sector would be expanded under Tory plans for the National Health Service to be unveiled today.

Patients would have the right to be treated at the hospital of their choice and the private health sector would be expanded under Tory plans for the National Health Service to be unveiled today.

William Hague will promise measures to encourage "a larger private and independent health sector", which is bound to provoke Labour allegations that the Tories would privatise the NHS. He will insist that the expansion would not be an alternative to the NHS, but an addition to it. In a keynote speech, the Tory leader will say: "Let us make it common ground between the political parties that a proper National Plan for a 21st century NHS should encourage more personal provision on top of an expanded and comprehensive NHS, as a way of increasing still further the total resources available to health care in Britain."

Mr Hague will accuse the Government of "stupid, short-sighted acts of spite that discourage people from using the independent sector and put yet more pressure on the NHS". He will cite Labour's decision to axe tax relief on medical insurance for the over-60s.

Although health has traditionally been a vote-winner for Labour, Mr Hague has told his frontbench team there must be no "no-go areas" for his party. He believes privately that the Tories can force a draw on the NHS issue at the next general election because Labour has failed to deliver its pledge to improve the service.

Speaking to the Centre for Policy Studies, he will say choice must be at the heart of the NHS. He will pledge to restore patients' right to reject treatment at hospitals with poor records, saying this right to choose has been in effect abolished by the Government.

"To ensure GPs and patients can make an informed choice, they should have free access to information on things like waiting times and treatment success rates in different hospitals," Mr Hague will say. "Crucially, we should then ensure that the money follows the patient. That is the way that patients' choice will drive up standards across the NHS."

Mr Hague will reiterate Tory plans for a "patients' guarantee" of treatment within a maximum waiting time, based exclusively on medical need. He would plough the £200m cost of preparing the NHS for the euro into surgery.

Comments