Owen Smith attacks "secret Tory plan" to privatise the NHS

Smith has pledged to increase NHS spending by 4 per cent a year.

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

The Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith is to attack a "secret plan to privatise the NHS" in a speech on Monday. 

His claims are based on the 2016-17 NHS regulator's business plan, which said the private sector had been "underutilised" and "independent sector providers" needed to be encouraged.

Ahead of his speech, Smith said the new prime minister Theresa May had given "the green light" to NHS privatisation: "The NHS is our country’s most valued institution – and people will be shocked to hear that the Tories have been putting together a secret plan to privatise it.”
 
He added: “We all rightly contribute to the NHS through our taxes – but we must make sure that money is spent on doctors and nurses, and not lining the pockets of private sector shareholders."

Smith's views on the NHS have come under scrutiny because of his background as a former policy chief for the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Amgen.

But he has insisted he has always believed in a publicly funded service, and describes the father of the NHS, Nye Bevan, as a "great hero".

In his speech, Smith will pledge to halt Tory health reforms, and boost NHS spending by at least 4 per cent a year.

Meanwhile, Smith's rival for the top job, Jeremy Corbyn, spent Saturday speaking at a campaign rally in Milton Keynes. He also backs more spending on the NHS.

He is due to address a rally focused on black and minority ethnic issues in north London on Monday afternoon.

Julia Rampen is the digital night editor at the Liverpool Echo, and the former digital news editor of the New Statesman. She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.