A FORMER aide to Health Secretary Steve Barclay has called for the “full privatisation” of the NHS.

Leon Emirali, a media aide in Barclay’s parliamentary office until July 2020, said politicians should make a plan to “rip the whole thing [the NHS] up and start again” during a TalkTV interview.

The former Tory council candidate turned PR consultant made the comments following a question on whether “part-privatisation” could help the NHS in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He responded: “Full privatisation is the answer. I think we need politicians with the guts to stand up and say we need to privatise our NHS, we need to get in private investment, but they’ll never do it because it’s so politically contentious.”

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Barclay has tried to distance himself from his former aide’s comments, with a source close to him telling the New Statesman that they “do not reflect Steve Barclay’s views in any way.”

The source added: “The Health Secretary is fully committed to the NHS and its founding principle of healthcare for all free at the point of delivery.”

A government source said Emirali did not hold a policy role but had worked for Barclay during his time as Brexit secretary and chief secretary to the Treasury.

Emirali confirmed to The New Statesman that he had never advised Barclay on health policy and “worked with him only on media and communications”.

“Healthcare should always be free at the point of access for those who cannot afford it – as I made clear when I spoke to TalkTV,” he added.