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NHS to remain a public service, says Sturgeon

8 July 2008

The Scottish Government will legislate to close a legal loophole that some GPs fear could lead to commercialisation of doctors’ services.

Speaking at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Edinburgh today, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon told delegates that NHS Scotland will continue to stay true to its founding principles.

Doctors had called for changes in the law to stop private firms taking over GP surgeries. The existing law allows companies to tender for GP contracts when they become available as long as there is a doctor on the board.

The Government is also to launch a consultation on the possible contents of a new patients’ rights bill, which will seek views on issues ranging from access to care and the right to legally binding individual waiting times.

Ms Sturgeon said: "We have set out our stall with absolute clarity. NHSScotland is, and always will be, a service that is owned by the people of this country.

"We will continue to ensure that our policies reflect the ethos and the principles upon which the NHS was founded back in 1948.

"I am firmly opposed to the commercialisation of healthcare and to this end, the Scottish Government will legislate to make sure there is no privatisation of GP services by the back door."