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Unions vote against NHS 'privatisation'

Published on 13/10/05 at 01:49pm

The government lost the vote at its party conference on expanding the role of the private sector in the NHS.

A motion calling for an urgent review of the role of markets and competition in the NHS was carried after 99.9% of unions voted for it, despite only 43% of constituency Labour party delegates giving it their backing.

Dave Prentis, the general secretary of public sector union Unison, said: "The NHS and its staff are now in a state of constant revolution. Any clear vision of our national health services is increasingly blurred by the language of the market -  profits, competition, cuts and customers."

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt countered that the NHS had always made use of the independent sector - only much less efficiently than it does today.

The issue came to a head in July, when the NHS chief executive wrote to PCT heads setting out a programme for the opening of primary care to private providers.

In June Pharmafocus reported on plans for general practices that failed to improve their services to be subject to competition from other providers - partly because PCTs are failing to bring about fast or radical enough reforms on their own.

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