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Labour’s plans to end privatisation ‘will cost the taxpayer’

Analyst suggests NHS would have to buy private hospitals to meet demand

The Labour Party’s plans to end privatisation in the NHS would be disruptive to the health service and come at a big cost to the taxpayer, an analyst has warned.

Private provision currently accounts for
around 7% of the NHS budget in England

A key part of Labour’s election manifesto and their continuing policy is to cut private provision in the NHS, which currently accounts for about 7% of the health budget in England.

Mark Dayan, policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust think tank, told that while Labour’s plan for the NHS in the last election had some positives, such as a high level of capital spending, its talk of ending privatisation very quickly could be quite disruptive to the NHS.

“Given the NHS currently relies on the private sector for many thousands of operations. Either you’d have had to buy the hospitals doing that back at a pretty big cost to the taxpayer. Or, if you’d cut that off, you’d risk reducing the amount that the NHS was actually able to do,” he said.

Dayan also said there were two big strategic issues for the NHS after Brexit: encouraging pharmaceutical companies and science clinical trials to stay in the UK; and finding migrant staff.

“We’re going to need them for another three or four years, at a minimum, because the staffing gap in the NHS is so big and it takes so long to fill it up with trainees,” he said. “We don’t have to get those staff from the EU, but if we want to get them from somewhere else, we’re going to have to really relax migrate requirements, particularly around social care, for where they currently are for people outside the EU.”