Tory health appointees 'show bias to business'

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The Independent Online
MORE THAN half the appointments to English health authorities this year come from a business, consultancy or finance background, according to a survey conducted by a Labour MP. Just 11 have any medical experience, writes Nicholas Timmins.

The figures show that ministers are using the appointments system 'to enforce the Conservatives' market-led approach in the health service', Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington, said. Of the 240 members appointed by Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, less than one-third - 79 - are women, Mr Milburn said, while 120 declared their background as being company directors, business-owners, accountants, financiers or consultants.

'The over-representation of people from a business background shows how far down the road NHS commercialisation has gone. In no sense can health authorities claim to be representative of the communities they are supposed to serve,' he said.

Of the 231 members whose occupations have been declared, 89 are company directors or business owners, 16 have finance backgrounds, and 15 are consultants. Just two were trade union officials. One appointee, however, is a funeral director.