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22.08.12

Labour’s NHS expansion criticism ‘hypocrisy’ – Milton

Labour has criticised government plans to export the NHS brand around the world, despite Gordon Brown’s government attempting to set up a similar scheme.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham labelled the plans, which would see the Department of Health help hospitals launch branches overseas to bring profit back to the UK, a “rampant commercialisation” of the health service.

He called for the proposals to be scrapped, but is now facing accusations of hypocrisy from the current government, because NHS Global was set up under the previous Government. It was intended to “maximise [the NHS’s] 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”.

Health minister Anne Milton responded: “Andy Burnham has sunk to a new low of political hypocrisy. 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.”

Healthcare UK is set to be launched this autumn by the DH and UK Trade and Investment.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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