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pounds 21K GIFT IS SO UNHEALTHY; Union slams donation to minister from private firm.

Byline: Nick Dorman

HEALTH secretary Andrew Lansley had a pounds 21,000 donation from one of Britain's biggest private health firms - less than a year before launching his white paper opening the door to NHS privatisation.

The money was handed over by tycoon John Nash, whose firm Care UK makes 96 per cent of its income from the NHS and could benefit further from changes allowing private firms to run more of the service.

The MPs' register of interests also reveals a string of other payments to Tories from private health companies while in opposition.

Dave Prentis of health workers' union Unison said: "It looks like these firms will be getting their money's worth. It's payback time for the private sector."

Former Labour Health Secretary Andy Burnham warned: "Private operators are going to have a field day, making a fortune from a system which will offer less public accountability."

Power

Care UK owner Mr Nash donated the money to fund Mr Lansley's office when the Tory was shadow health secretary last November. The donation was properly disclosed by Mr Lansley.

His firm runs 11 GP-led health centres, two walkin centres and a GP's surgery. It supplied services to all 10 strategic health authorities in England and Wales and a third of primary care trusts - both of which will be abolished under Mr Lansley's NHS blueprint. GPs will instead have power to decide who is paid for carrying out treatment and services.

The Tories made no mention of increased moves towards privatisation in their election manifesto.

Other Tories with links to private health firms include MPs Stephen O'Brien, David Heathcote-Amory, Mark Simmons and Rob Wilson and peer Lord McColl.

The Conservative Party said donations were made transparently and had no influence on policy.

Mr Burnham warned yesterday that Coalition NHS reforms, giving more power to GPs and scaling back health trusts, will bring a return to postcode lottery, in which poor patients are denied treatment.

He told The People: "These things are so important to people and they are just wiping them away."

nigel.nelson@people.co.uk

We Say: Page 14

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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 18, 2010
Words:369
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