Owen Smith slams Tory ‘secret plan’ to privatise the NHS

Spending on private sector provision has doubled under the Conservatives, Smith will claim


Owen Smith will accuse Theresa May of giving Jeremy Hunt ‘the green light to start privatising our health service’, in a speech in Salford this morning.

He will argue that Hunt is ‘covering up’ the scale of privatisation, pointing to new figures that show that spending on private sector provision has doubled since the Tories came to power.

‘It is now clear that Theresa May has given Jeremy Hunt the green light to start privatising our health service,’ Smith is expected to say.

“Within days of his reappointment as Health Secretary he had officials drawing up secret plans to privatise the NHS.

“Like many families across Britain my family is relying on the health service at this very moment. The NHS is our country’s most valued institution – and people will be shocked to hear that the Tories have been putting together a secret plan to privatise it.”

“We all rightly contribute to the NHS through our taxes – but we must make sure that money is spent on doctors and nurses, and not lining the pockets of private sector shareholders.

“I fought the Tories top-down reorganisation of the NHS line by line as a Shadow Health Minister. I warned that it would lead to an explosion of privatisation – and that is exactly what has happened.

“It just goes to show you can’t trust the Tories with our NHS. Under their rule it is in crisis yet again, with waiting lists growing and hospitals dangerously understaffed.

“As Prime Minister, I would call an immediate halt to Tory privatisation, set about scrapping the Tories damaging health reforms and make sure our NHShas the cash it so desperately needs – boasting spending by at least 4 per cent every year.”

Smith has been repeatedly questioned about his commitment to a fully public NHS, because of his background in pharmaceutical lobbying.

He has consistently rejected claims that he supports greater privatisation, and speaks passionately about the health service. He recently spoke to the Huffington Post about bringing his brother to hospital earlier this year, following a crisis linked to epilepsy.

‘And I tell you what,’ Smith said. ‘It’s a real eye-opener for me into just how terrible mental health services are in Britain, that he was bounced essentially between mental health services and A&E.’

‘He ended up being kept on a gurney [hospital stretcher-trolley] in A&E for a week, when he should have been having specialist mental health care.’

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