Press release: Owen Smith on the NHS

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News logo[Monday 15 August 2016]

Owen Smith’s remarks on NHS privatisation[1] are welcome. But he needs to say more because this is neither new nor going away unless people realise what is happening to our NHS and act to stop it.


Keep Our NHS Public welcomes comments that describe how our NHS is being privatised and broken up, amidst cuts to services and worsening staff conditions. The full extent of the problem needs spelling out. Otherwise it will not be stopped. We hope Mr Smith will do that.

Dr John Lister, health policy researcher and Secretary of Keep Our NHS Public, said:

“It’s positive that Owen Smith has latched on to one aspect of the government’s plan to transform our NHS from a public service into a competitive market, in which a growing share of public funding flows to private companies while NHS trusts are left to struggle with massive deficits

“But so far he’s said nothing on Labour’s role in government, which deepened the fragmentation of the NHS, and created a new, state-funded growth in the private sector.

“The problem now is not just the growing spend on private providers, but the way it has been achieved, through the chaos and fragmentation of Andrew Lansley’s Health & Social Care Act, which Labour must reverse if the NHS is to be returned to public provision, and publicly accountable. There is also the £2 billion plus per year haemorrhaging from the NHS each year in payments for hospitals built under the Private Finance initiative.

“It’s disappointing that so far, while flagging up ‘secret’ Tory plans, Mr Smith hasn’t highlighted the efforts by Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders to draw attention to the massive cuts in services being planned in secret in England through Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs), aimed at cutting billions from NHS spending by 2020.

“None of the problems of the NHS can be fully resolved without a break from the brutal cash freeze imposed since 2010, which each year increases NHS spending by far less than rising costs.”

Dr Jacky Davis, consultant radiologist and Treasurer for Keep Our NHS Public, added:

“NHS privatisation is nothing new. Politicians – including some inside Labour – have been trying to privatise the NHS for the last 20 years. This Tory government has persisted with it despite all the evidence showing that this is not the right model for the NHS. Privatisation is a waste of precious public money and delivers a poor service for patients.  We have heard plenty of horror stories of private companies putting profits before patients by cutting staff, cutting corners and walking away when they couldn’t make a profit. 

“We call on politicians to recognise that ‘private is better than public’ is not true when it comes to the NHS.”


Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 38 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details:


KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]

[email protected]


Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public


[1] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin

Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press

Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.

Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.

[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

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