Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

The NHS will be bled dry - Open markets

The Sunday Times - 9th September 2001

Gadher has done us all a service by highlighting the unnecessarily high cost of routine operations carried out by private health providers (Britons pay more for private operations, News, last week).

It is not only a question of cost. One of our constituents had to pay from her own pocket to go to France to take advantage of a surgical technique that was not available at home after her healthcare provider refused to reimburse her because its approved "provider neworks" do not ordinarily extend beyond the United Kingdom.

It will become increasingly difficult for private healthcare providers in the UK to justify a policy that does not take advantage of the European single market, especially when prices are frequently lower on the Continent.

The current relationship between providers and authorised consultants, often working at hospitals owned by the providers, is too cosy a cartel to be of benefit to the consumer. If our own healthcare policy providers do not adapt we are sure that there are French and German companies that can.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Theresa Villiers MEP
Brussels