Letter: Labour's agenda on health care

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article 'Labour targets private health' (14 February), which quoted David Blunkett's statement that the NHS is being 'drained' of resources by the private sector, is misleading. The proposal to levy a charge on private medical insurance or private health care could spell disaster for any future Labour government concerned with the effective and efficient use of health care resources.

Given that the UK's independent health-care sector undertakes at least 20 per cent of all elective surgery and accounts for more expenditure than the NHS in Scotland or Wales, Labour seems to be endorsing a programme which would ultimately demand an increase of some 10 per cent on the NHS's budget.

Mr Blunkett has not put forward a soundly costed proposal, only a traditional and outdated view. Surely the way forward for a Labour government would be to utilise NHS resources, freed up by 15 per cent of the population who have access to independently funded health care? Labour's tax desires would, far from benefiting NHS patients, merely serve to increase the pressures on the state's scarce resources by forcing ever more people back into it.

Yours faithfully,

BARRY HASSELL

Chief Executive

Independent Healthcare

Association

London, WC1

16 February

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