MP linked to private health care by tabloid

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Sir Robert Smith was one of 70 MPs named in a Daily Mirror article last week as having ‘links to private healthcare firms.’

The list was titled on the Mirror Online as: Selling off NHS for profit’: Full list of MPs with links to private healthcare firms.

Sir Robert was listed at number 69 as he has shares in pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline.

The list included Prime Minister David Cameron, Andrew Lansley - former health secretary and architect of privatisation - and health minister Jeremy Hunt.

The NHS employs and trains a skilled workforce and organises a comprehensive range of health services and treatments.

Now almost all of the clinical work that the NHS provides has been opened up to the for-profit sector, and they have begun to take over the care of many NHS patients.

At present, the NHS is still the dominant provider and, for the most part, care is still free.

But the private sector is quickly expanding its role, energised by the passing of the Health and Social Care Act early in 2012.

On Thursday of last week American defence giant, Lockheed Martin, was one of a number of private companies considering a bid for a £1bn NHS contract to run GP support services in England.

The 10-year contract is understood to be worth more than the current cost of running the services, which employ 1600 people. Bidders have been told they will have to close some offices and invest in new technology, and should expect to bear some redundancy costs

In many areas of care, the NHS is having to compete for patients and funding in a new market-focussed health service,

Sir Robert Smith said: “As a Liberal Democrat, I believe that the NHS is a vital public service that must remain free at the point of delivery and that its use should be based on need.

“The last Labour government went too far in privatising services and they allowed private health companies to get special favours. The Liberal Democrats have reversed those policies. Should a patient’s needs be best met by a service outside of the NHS we should not deny a patient access.

“Under the SNP government health spending on private provision in Scotland has risen.’’