1997 Labour Party Policy

I have often heard it said, including last week,  that Labour should go back to its 1997 commitment to return the NHS to a publicly provided service.

The quotes from the 1997 Manifesto below show that there was a commitment to maintain PFI, to retain the purchaser/provider split and to develop new forms of partnership with the private sector.

It does not commit to returning to a fully publicly provided service (just a public service) but it does oppose outright privatisation of clinical services.


Labour pioneered the idea of public/private partnerships. It is Labour local authorities which have done most to create these partnerships at local level.

There can be no return to top-down management, but Labour will end the Conservatives’ internal market in healthcare. The planning and provision of care are necessary and distinct functions, and will remain so.

The Tory attempt to use private money to build hospitals has failed to deliver. Labour will overcome the problems that have plagued the Private Finance Initiative, end the delays, sort out the confusion and develop new forms of public/private partnership that work better and protect the interests of the NHS.

Labour is opposed to the privatisation of clinical services which is being actively promoted by the Conservatives.

Our fundamental purpose is simple but hugely important: to restore the NHS as a public service working co-operatively for patients, not a commercial business driven by competition.