Cameron defends health spokesman over second job attack

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron was forced to defend his shadow health minister today after it was revealed he is a paid consultant to a private healthcare company.

The news made for a depressing development for the Tory leader, who is still suffering from the negative publicity which came with Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s interview on American television in which he said he would not wish the NHS on anyone.

The row last week seriously damaged the opposition party’s carefully crafted public image as saviours of the NHS, and reminded voters of the old assessment that only Labour could trusted with the health service.

But today’s report, by the Times, drags the issue back into the public eye.

Lord McColl of Dulwich, a junior health spokesman for the party, is also chair of the advisory committee of Endeavour Health, a paid-for rival to NGS GP services.

But Mr Cameron described the position as a “perfectly satisfactory state of affairs” today.

“My understanding is that, yes, he has carried out a couple of consultations for this private company; all of that has been properly declared,” Mr Cameron said.

“I think he himself has said that if there is anything improper about what this company has done, he’ll sever any contact with it. I think that’s a perfectly satisfactory state of affairs.

“It’s not illegal to use private health in Britain, but we want to expand the NHS, and make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be, so people don’t have to use the private sector.”

The company essentially replicates a GP’s service without queues of waiting periods. Through a monthly subscription, it provides 24-hour-cover to customers, together with a £100 fee for off-the-street one -off consultations.

It provides 24-hour cover to customers paying a monthly subscription, and also offers a consultation to anyone walking off the street at a cost of £100.

“During the day, evening and weekends you will be seen at a time and place that suits your schedule,” the company website reads.