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North-East MP calls for end to the 'creeping privatisation' of the NHS
A NORTH-East MP will today (Tuesday, October 8) demand that David Cameron end the secrecy surrounding what he fears is the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
Easington MP Grahame Morris will introduce his own Bill to make the private firms grabbing health contracts covered by freedom of information laws.
Mr Morris has – as a member of the Commons health select committee – led criticism of private healthcare giants gobbling up chunks of the NHS, under Coalition changes.
Critics have also warned that the public, because of the secrecy, has no way of judging whether the firms have good track records that mean they can be trusted with NHS work.
Now Mr Morris will demand badly-needed transparency, to ensure companies bidding for contracts can no longer “hide behind the cloak of commercial confidentiality”.
Mr Morris said: “Freedom of Information should be used to follow the public pound.
“It’s important to do this because we need to address the democratic deficit caused by this expansion of outsourcing in public services.
“Billion of pounds of taxpayers’ money are being handed to private health companies in barely transparent contracts and they should not be able to hide behind the cloak of commercial confidentiality.”
There has been growing controversy about creeping privatisation since last year’s controversial Health Act, which opened up more of the NHS to competition.
In particular, a contract to treat NHS patients with brain tumours was awarded to Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a donor to the Tory party.
The multi-million pound deal with was pushed through quietly just days before the Government handed responsibility for cancer care to a new quango, NHS England.
HCA was also accused of overcharging the NHS by millions of pounds and has been fined more than $1billion for mis-selling healthcare in the United States.
Meanwhile, other contracts have been awarded to a company called Care UK, which funded the personal office of former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, in Opposition.
Mr Morris also accused Mr Cameron of going back on his pledge, when Opposition leader, to extend the Freedom of Information Act to all “taxpayer-funded bodies”.
Meanwhile, private companies can benefit by gaining intimate knowledge of public-sector bodies through the submission of FOI requests, the MP said, That same information is then used to undercut, or outbid, the very same public-sector organisation when contracts are tendered, or put up for renewal.
Earlier this year, Mr Morris said £7bn of new NHS contracts had been made available for bidding by private firms, but “there is virtually no information available to the taxpayer”.
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