By Ian Quinn
Labour has promised to launch ‘the mother of all battles' to stop the coalition Government's health White Paper, claiming it will pave the way for the full scale privatisation of the NHS.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham revealed the party would be launching a ‘major campaign' over the summer to show the strength of opposition to the proposals put forward by his successor Andrew Lansley, which he described as ‘the greatest threat to the NHS in all its 62 years.'
In an editorial in the Daily Mirror, the Labour leadership candidate said: ‘It will turn a fair service into a free-for all and let market forces run riot. Thousands will be out of work. The private sector is rubbing its hands. Patients will be the losers. It means the return of postcode lottery and that old Tory choice - wait longer or go private. Services will vary so much that the N in NHS will be redundant.
Mr Burnham added: ‘Earlier this year, following revelations that the boss's wife at Care UK was bankrolling Mr Lansley's private office, I wrote to David Cameron asking him what safeguards were in place to ensure there could be no perception that private health care companies had undue influence over Conservative health policy. I never received a reply.
‘Now we have a White Paper that has appeared with no consultation, no piloting, and no evidence. GPs are unprepared for it, NHS staff don't want it and patients never asked for it.'
‘We now need complete transparency on the links between private healthcare firms and the Conservatives, and what if any involvement they had in health policy development,' he added.
The former health secretary concluded: ‘Get ready for the mother of all battles. Labour will run a campaign over the summer to show the strength of opposition to these plans before the Health Bill arrives in Parliament in the autumn.'Andy Burnham