Health secretary Andrew Lansley has rejected claims from the Labour Party that rationing is increasing in the NHS and has insisted the blanket restrictions that were prevalent under the last Labour Government have been eradicated by his Government.
In a heated exchange in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Lansley poured scorn on claims that nine in 10 PCTs are restricting access to treatment because of financial pressures.
He told shadow health secretary Andy Burnham that examples cited by Labour in its recent NHS Check report, such as patients being denied weight loss surgery, were ‘meaningless’.
His defence came after Mr Burnham had attacked Mr Lansley’s record on the NHS, and claimed rationing by cost was happening ‘on his watch’.
Mr Burnham said: ‘He has said there will be no rationing by cost. Well I’ve got news for him, it’s happening on his watch, right across the system, with a whole host of restrictions on important treatments, a postcode lottery running riot.’
But Mr Lansley hit back at Mr Burnham, claiming: ‘He went around the country trying to drum up something he could throw at us. Do you know what he ended up with? That the NHS is rationing care? What was his basis for this? That there are parts of the NHS where there are restrictions on access to weight loss surgery because people have to be obese before they have access to it. That is meaningless.’
Mr Lansley added: ‘I went through his so-called health check – time and again, he says, they are rationing. They are not, and the reason they are not is because last year, the Cooperation and Competition Panel produced a report which showed where there had been such blanket bans on services in the NHS under a Labour Government, we introduced measures that made sure it wouldn’t happen in the future.’
The health secretary added: ‘He [Mr Burnham] is pretending the NHS is somehow in chaos or financial trouble. It is complete nonsense. Only three PCTs were in deficit at the end of the year.’