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PMI firms reject claim of no place in NHS reform

Private medical insurers have waded into the debate over healthcare funding, rejecting Chancellor Gordon Brown&#39s claim that there is no role for insurers in NHS reform.

Insurers are disappointed by the apparent conclusions reached by the Treasury-commissioned report, Securing our Future Health, Taking a Long-Term View, that increased taxation is the best way to pay for healthcare.

Providers say the report does not consider that consumers want choice in their healthcare options, which only the private sector can provide.

In his pre-Budget statement last week, Chancellor Gordon Brown said former NatWest chief executive Derek Wanless had concluded in his report that public funding was the way forward for the NHS.

But Wanless says that, contrary to the implication of the Chancellor&#39s statement, he has not ruled out other methods of funding healthcare, including a role for the private sector, and emphasised that the report is only an interim one.

The debate was further stirred up when Prime Minister Tony Blair said in the House of Commons that there were other funding options.

PPP Healthcare spokesman Ben Faulkner says: “It is nonsense to maintain that private funding systems have a weak incentive for cost control. The failure to deliver value for money services to customers results in the ultimate sanction – going out of business.”

Bupa insurance managing director Fergus Kee says: “We were disappointed the report seemed to reach the conclusion that there is no role for the private sector in the future provision of healthcare.”

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