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British Prime Minister Tony Blair appears to be preparing to open up the countrys entire public health system to the private sector. In a recent speech to private health corporation executives, he suggested the government was anxious to be only regulating not running or providing health care services.

The corporate executives are bidding to run for-profit diagnostic and treatment centres to provide fast-track hip replacements and cataract surgeries. The privatized centres, along with the troubled PFI hospital scheme, are two key ways the British government has privatized large chunks of the health care system.

Several Canadian groups are exporting privatization to the UK. Among the bidders for privatized surgeries is a consortium that includes the Calgary Health Region experts themselves in contracted out and privatized surgeries. The same consortium includes Surgical Centres Inc., which is a major contractor to the Calgary Health Region. A third Canadian corporation, InterHealth Canada, is also in the running via another consortium.