By Claire West

The British public will be horrified to see that their GP’s practice is being quoted on the stock market, Unite, the union, said this week.

Unite was commenting on reports that under the Health and Social Care Bill, GP practices could be partially floated on the stock market.

Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey said: ‘The fact that family doctors could be set for windfall profits under the government’s plans, which will see them controlling £80bn of the NHS budget, will horrify and alarm the public.’

The NHS, which is funded by the taxpayer, should not become part of the casino capitalism that Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley seems intent on introducing into healthcare.’

‘People’s health and well-being should not be equated to the daily fluctuations of the FT share index.’

The possibility that the commissioning budgets of GPs being handed over to a private company, in which doctors could own a 20 per cent stake, is due to an apparent loophole in the legislation which would allow that company to claim it was a provider as well as a purchaser of healthcare.

Unite called for the legislation to be tightened to close off this loophole and for the future powers of Monitor, which will regulate the market in healthcare, to be scrutinised closely by MPs, as the bill passes through its committee stage.

Unite wants Monitor’s role to be tightly defined, so that it puts patients’ health needs before the desire to create competition in health care.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, is fundamentally opposed to the privatisation of the NHS and wants the coalition to radically re-think its health policy.