Oliver Letwin’s extreme views on NHS exposed

Oliver Letwin’s extreme views on NHS exposed

09 January 2016

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has exposed an alarming pamphlet on the future of the NHS co- written by Oliver Letwin in the 1980s - the same period the current cabinet member made unpalatable comments about race (see notes to editors).

What’s shocking is that his extreme views are being put into practice in the NHS now, with disastrous effect. Entitled Britain’s Biggest Enterprise the pamphlet makes bizarre comparisons between the NHS, maximum security prisons and the Soviet Union. The paper makes five recommendations and alarmingly some of these recommendations have happened through the Health and Social Care Act or have not been ruled out for the future.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said:  “Not only did Oliver Letwin hold disgraceful views about race in Britain but he also held dangerous views about the future of the NHS. What’s really worrying is that some of his privatising ideas have actually been put into practice by the Tories and they are having disastrous effects on our NHS.

“It also shows that the Tories have been plotting to tear up the NHS and replace it with a US style health system for years. The Tories are even trying to push through a trade deal called TTIP which threatens to make the privatisation of the NHS irreversible by giving US healthcare companies new rights to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership.

In 1988 two Conservatives wrote a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank called ‘Britain’s Biggest Enterprise: ideas for radical reform of the NHS’ - It was written by Oliver Letwin and John Redwood.

In the pamphlet they compare the NHS to the Soviet Union (see notes to editors). It also goes on to claim prisoners in high security jails do not fare much worse than NHS patients (see notes to editors).  

The report makes five key recommendations.

Recommendations 1 and 2 have happened through the health and social care act.

1) Establishment of the NHS as an independent trust.
This has happened through the Health and Social Care Act.

2) Increased use of joint ventures between the NHS and private sector
This is central to the health and social care act.

3) Extending the principle of charging
Lord Prior, the Government’s minister for NHS Productivity, has proposed an independent inquiry into whether the current free-at-the-point-of-use service is sustainable.

4) A system of ‘health credits’.

5) A national health insurance scheme.


Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

Notes to editors:

Some quotes taken from a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank called ‘Britain’s Biggest Enterprise

“Rationing by queue as one can see anywhere behind the iron curtain, or in the NHS – turns customers or patients into nuisances.”

“ Who would go to a holiday resort however cheap, that looked as uninviting as an NHS ward? Little or no privacy, little access to the simplest items of modern technology such as telephones and TVs, very restrictive visiting hours, poor food with little choice. No one could run a resort on the basis. It is doubtful whether long stay prisoners in maximum security jails fare much worse.”

Britain’s Biggest Enterprise also  calls the NHS “a bureaucratic monster that cannot be tamed” and  claims waiting lists were caused by the “system itself” rather than a lack of funds, and that spending more money would simply increase waiting lists.

Oliver Letwin’s comments following social unrest and rioting in inner city black communities across Britain in the 1980s can be found here:

The principle of a free, taxpayer-funded NHS 'must be questioned', says Tory health minister