Tories are now rushing to smash & privatise NHS!

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NHS consultants rally at the BMA headquarters during their strike action over pay

THE TORY goverment is now rushing to privatise the NHS, by using all means that are available for the task including the use of the private sector to ‘tackle the NHS backlog in England’.

Ministers say they want to unlock spare capacity to get more people the treatment and operations they need.

This includes opening eight privately-run diagnostic centres and using new rules to make it easier for the NHS to purchase care in the private sector.

It comes as a record 7.5 million people are waiting for treatment – three million more than before the pandemic.

Making ‘greater use of the private sector’ is something Labour has also called for, and the Sunak government has been working at it since late 2022 after setting up the Elective Recovery Taskforce.

The private sector already carries out hundreds of thousands of treatments and appointments for the NHS every year.

But it has said it has the capacity to carry out about 30% more.

Ministers are set to relax the rules governing the awarding of contracts by the NHS to get the greatest possible flexibility so that local health NHS bosses can use the private sector on a permanent basis.

A rule change – known as the provider selection regime – will come in before the end of the year and means there will be greater freedom to award contracts without any tendering.

As well as this, the government has announced 13 new community diagnostic centres – eight of which will be run directly by the private sector.

The centres are in: Thurrock, Northampton, South Birmingham, Redruth (Cornwall), Torbay, Yeovil, North Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare.

The five NHS centres are in: Barking (London), Skegness, Lincoln, Nottingham, and Stoke-on-Trent.

These will be open by the end of the year and are part of a commitment to set up a network of 160 clinics by 2025.

There are currently 114 open, allowing patients to access a range of tests and scans outside of hospital.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We must use every available resource to ease the pressure on the NHS.’

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers which represents trusts in England, welcomed the announcement.

‘At a time when resources are significantly constrained, looking beyond NHS resources in order to support trusts is very important,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

She said the NHS had long used different types of providers, adding: ‘What we do need to see is desperately needed additional capacity.’

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting chided the Tory government government for not acting sooner to make more use of the private sector.
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