Shadow health minister vows repeal of Health and Social Care Act in 2015
Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has vowed that a Labour government would swiftly repeal the privatising Health and Social Care Act to stop outsourcing firms "devouring" NHS England.
He spoke after the release of figures suggesting that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has overseen a whopping £4.5 billion outsourcing fire sale in NHS England in his first year in the job.
Among the 81 contracts that Labour said had been handed to privateers were an £800 million contract for elderly care services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, £770m for pathology services in the Midlands and £500m for community health services in Gloucestershire.
And the George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton could become the second after Cambridgeshire's Hinchingbrooke to leave state hands after it got the Treasury green light this month.
Mr Burnham said the level of private control had accelerated since the Health Act came in last year.
The Act forces commissioning bodies to put services out to tender.
Mr Burnham warned that the legislation has placed the NHS in England "on a fast track to fragmentation and privatisation.
"David Cameron needs to be forcefully reminded that he has never been given the public's permission to put the NHS up for sale.
"If we carry on down this path, market forces will eventually devour everything precious about the NHS."
Mr Burnham spoke a day after 20,000 protesters turned out in Stafford on Saturday against plans to axe services including maternity from the local hospital.
Save Stafford Hospital chair Sue Hawkins said she feared it would lead to further downgrading in the future.