By Ray Fleming

A change in the scale of expenditure in almost any walk of public life would normally draw a lot of attention if it involved a jump from a cost “cap” of two per cent to one of 49 per cent. Yet although such a change has just been proposed by Britain's government for the expansion of private care in National Health Service Hospitals it has had only minimal media attention.

Is this because it became known only when an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill currently before Parliament was quietly introduced on the eve of Christmas?

Under this amendment NHS hospitals will be free to earn 49 per cent of their income from private patients. It is difficult to see how this can be done without a big reduction in available beds and access to top specialists for non-paying patients but the government argues that it will result in greater investment in hospital facilities for everyone.

The change is a fundamental one which has not been properly presented and debated and was not on the agenda during Mr Cameron's infamous U-turn “pause” for widespread NHS reform consultation last year. The Liberal Democrats have not yet reacted to the announcement.

This latest move towards privatisation of the NHS makes clear that David Cameron's assurance that the NHS is “in safe hands” with him has little substance.

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