Liberal Democrat leadership contender Nick Clegg has promised to bring in directly-elected local health boards if he propels the party to power.
In a speech to the Social Market Foundation, he said it is “crazy” that the Health Secretary Alan Johnson is the only person with responsibility for the NHS who is answerable to voters.
He is also calling for patients to be treated by the private sector if the NHS fails to meet waiting time limits.
Mr Clegg (pictured) pledged radical public service reforms in an effort to end Whitehall’s influence on the NHS at a local level.
He claims primary care trusts (PCTs) should be free to champion the interests of patients rather than providers, but this will only happen if they can be held to account via the ballot box.
He said: “We need to break the strangling grip of Whitehall on the health service, making it accountable to the people it serves through the creation of locally elected health boards.
“It is just crazy that the only democratically elected politician with direct responsibility for the health service is the Secretary of State for Health.”
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