By Gareth Iacobucci
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has accepted a large cash donation from the wife of the head of one of the biggest private firms to provide services for the NHS, it has emerged.
The wife of John Nash, chairman of Care UK, whose portfolio includes numerous APMS practices and GP-led health centres across the country, gave £21,000 to Mr Lansley's personal office in November.
The revelation comes just days after Pulse revealed that the Tories have opened talks with a series of private firms, after their manifesto pledged to increase the role of the independent sector in the NHS.
The party told Pulse talks were ongoing with ‘a wide range' of providers as part of a drive to create a more competitive NHS marketplace, with sources close to Westminster disclosing that Care UK were among the firms talking to the Tories.
A spokesman for the Conservative party said: ‘We have been completely transparent about this donation. It has been properly registered with the parliamentary register as well as with the Electoral Commission and is therefore fully within the rules.
‘John Nash and his wife have a wide range of interests, of which Care UK is just one. This donation to support Mr Lansley's office was made through Conservative Campaign Headquarters. Mr Lansley did not solicit this donation. Donations from private individuals in no way influence policy making decisions.'
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said the donation exposed the Tories' conflict of interest on the NHS.
He said: 'This is a staggering conflict of interest which completely undermines the Tories claim that the NHS would be safe in their hands. Many people will question Andrew Lansley's judgement and the impact that these donations have on Conservative health policy.
'With Labour in the pockets of the unions and the Tories taking money from private health firms, only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to run our NHS.'Andrew Lansley