A number of communications concerning the place of the NHS in future trade deals claim that 'the NHS in England has already been privatised'.
To set people's minds at rest, it needs to be made clear that the NHS in England has not been privatised and this Government will not do so.
I fully believe in our NHS and its values. The Government shares those values which is why it has guaranteed that the NHS will always provide healthcare free at the point of delivery, regardless of ability to pay. While private providers do play a small role in improving the provision of health care, let me be abundantly clear: the Government will never privatise the NHS. In the financial year 2017/2018, spending on non-NHS providers including voluntary sector agencies by NHS England amounted to 7.3% of total NHS spending.
The use of private providers and the voluntary sector in the delivery of NHS services is not a new concept, with the Labour Government introducing the independent sector and competition into the NHS between 1997 and 2010.
The NHS is something to be valued and protected which is why I support the commitment to properly funding the NHS. Since 2010 the NHS budget has increased every year, and I am happy to say that despite challenging financial circumstances, the annual budget of the NHS is being increased by £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023/24.
The Government is clear that competition in the NHS should act as a means to an end in improving services for patients, never as an end in itself. It should be judged on its results not on whether it conforms to some dogma.
I hope this clarifies the issue and provides reassurance for those concerned by unfounded allegations that the NHS is for sale.
Craig Whittaker MP