Dominic Raab struggled to affirm he had “never advocated for the privatization of the NHS” in a radio interview after he was confronted with a book he co-wrote which called for “private operators” to enter the healthcare system.
During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, the UK Foreign Secretary attempted to extinguish talk of a Tory government giving the green light to more private companies gaining a bigger foothold in the NHS, in the context of post-Brexit trade negotiations with the US.
“I can tell you categorically I’ve never advocated privatization of the NHS,” Raab claimed.
However, unfortunately for the foreign secretary, BBC presenter Nick Robinson had a copy of ‘After the Coalition,’ a 2011 book Raab co-authored with fellow Tories Kwasi Kwarteng, Chris Skidmore, Priti Patel, and Liz Truss.
“That’s a ludicrous assertion”@DominicRaab denies pamphlet he co-authored – suggesting 2/3 hospitals could be run privately or not for profit – would encourage US trade interest in the NHS #r4today | https://t.co/JoWgjA2KLd | @bbcnickrobinson pic.twitter.com/TMZ0UmRIXk
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) December 3, 2019
The ‘health’ chapter of the book suggests that NHS reforms are necessary and that “the current monolith should be broken up.” It then goes on to insist that “private operators should be allowed into the service and, indeed, should compete on price.”
The NHS should take advantage of the extra efficiencies private companies can provide.
Raab, ostensibly ruffled by having the quotes read back to him, attempted to downplay the significance of the remarks, claiming that he and his Conservative colleagues were really referring to services such as coffee shops and florists that operate within the UK healthcare system.
Robinson fired back: “It talked about hospitals being run by private companies, it didn’t talk about coffee shops.”
The future of the NHS has become a huge issue in the UK general election campaign. The Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, claim that a Tory Brexit risks US pharmaceutical companies coming into the UK market as part of any trade deals with President Donald Trump. PM Boris Johnson has dismissed the concerns as “scaremongering.”
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