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Tory election chief Lynton Crosby's firm planned to expand role of private healthcare in UK

Published 04/05/2015

Labour says PM must 'come clean' on Lynton Crosby's business interests
Labour says PM must 'come clean' on Lynton Crosby's business interests

A firm run by the Tories’ election chief, Lynton Crosby, devised a plan to lobby David Cameron to expand the role of private healthcare in the UK.

A strategy paper, drawn up by Mr Crosby’s firm CTF Partners and seen by The Independent, proposed targeting key government figures, including the Prime Minister, to enhance the “size, acceptability and profitability of the private healthcare market”.

It also stated that “insufficient public funds” were a strategic “opportunity” for private healthcare firms. It added the campaign’s long-term strategy should be “achieving decision-maker recognition that health investment in the UK can only grow by expanding the role and contribution made by the private sector”.

The emergence of the document, just four days before polling day, has been seized on by Labour as evidence of the links between the Conservatives, private healthcare firms and the man entrusted to secure an election victory for the Tories on Thursday.

CTF Partners’ website says Mr Crosby’s “intuitive sense of delivering the results that are needed” has been “finely honed through his many years of providing high-level advice to prime ministers, premiers, and leaders of business”.

“David Cameron has serious questions to answer,” Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, said. “It looks increasingly like Lynton Crosby’s lobbying firm led a drive to ensure private health companies were the big beneficiaries of David Cameron’s health policies.

“Cameron must now come clean on the impact of Lynton Crosby’s business interests on Tory policy.”

The presentation is believed to have been made in the autumn of 2010 by CTF Partners to a group of large UK private healthcare providers called H5 Private Healthcare Alliance accounting for 80 per cent of the UK’s private hospitals and 85 per cent of all private beds.

Slides from the presentation show that CTF believed H5’s mission should be to ensure “better healthcare” through private hospitals “playing their part complementing the NHS”. It suggests H5 should act as a “campaign body” to “secure and grow private healthcare’s place in a growing UK health sector”. The document states H5 must “persuade politicians that this is achievable and sustainable”.

The presentation also included research by CTF into public attitudes towards private healthcare. This, it said, showed the public could be persuaded of the merits of private healthcare as long as it was not seen to be “anti NHS”.

“Our analysis of the research tells us the best arguments to use in positively positioning private healthcare against the NHS,” it states. It then lists short waiting lists, choice, access to the best professionals and high-quality care as among the attributes that the public associate with private healthcare.

Mr Crosby has faced accusations in the past that he could use his position as the Tories’ chief strategist to advance the interests of his firm’s other commercial clients. This has always been denied by Mr Crosby and CTF Partners. But with the future of the NHS a central part of the election campaign the Conservatives will be uncomfortable with the evidence that CTF had drawn up plans for H5 to lobby government on behalf of private healthcare companies.

It is not known what lobbying work, if any, CTF did for H5 after its presentation. The contract ended in June 2011.

In a statement a spokesman for CTF said: “This is another politically motivated, gratuitous attempt to republish baseless and false allegations made two years ago. It has been a matter of public record since 2013 that CTF provided polling and analysis to H5 in 2010, which ended in June 2011.

“The contents of this document were presented to scores of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs at an event at the House of Commons in 2010 organised by a former Labour councillor. Briefings of information in this document were also widely circulated at that time.

“Any claim that this widely known information somehow represents a conflict of interest with work being undertaken four years later is completely unfounded and categorically wrong.”

Ed Miliband is expected to warn that “the future of the NHS is at risk in the way it hasn’t been for a generation”.

“We know that if David Cameron wins a second term there will be a drive for more privatisation, more broken promises and more people waiting longer for treatment,” he will say.

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