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On top of the provisions to privatize services within the EU, the commission has also launched a Health Directive to create a new "single market" in healthcare.

The Mail and Guardian noted that the plan is supported by the Conservatives who claim that it would extend 'patient choice'. A leader in the Telegraph suggests that the Directive "is a natural extension of the single market into the public sector and could have the most profound implications for the way health care is delivered here."

The Mail suggested that "this would be a huge first step towards total freedom of choice about where to have treatment - giving a welcome boost to competitive and efficient privatised medicine into the bargain". So much for Tory opposition to the EU constitution.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis stressed that the proposals for healthcare provoke a "race to the bottom" for staff pay and conditions in the health service. He says that the change will give bosses the green light to ignore the minimum wage and sensible working hours for staff, with part-time women workers the most likely to suffer.

The British Medical Association also warns that the proposals "undermine every member states' right to decide what is in the best interests of its patients and its healthcare systems".


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