JOHN REID, the health secretary, was set to visit one of the US's biggest providers of private healthcare this week, Kaiser Permanente in Washington. Reid says, 'Just because we in Britain reject the insurance-based health system run by private providers it doesn't mean that we cannot learn lessons about how such systems operate elsewhere.'
Former health secretary Frank Dobson said, 'Very few people would think of going to America to learn how to improve the NHS. Kaiser doesn't treat the old, the very ill or the unemployed. They don't cover the whole population, they cover the insured population.'
He won't square diplomatic circle
BRITISH AMBASSADORS aren't known for rocking the boat. But the government has threatened to give the ambassador to Uzbekistan the boot if he carries on upsetting the US.
Craig Murray criticised the regime in Uzbekistan which is a key US ally and was called back from his post when he refused to stop. Murray said, in front of senior Uzbek leaders, 'Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy. The major political parties are banned, parliament is not subject to democratic elections.'
Uzbek leaders and US diplomats were furious. A senior source told the Guardian, 'He was told the next time he stepped away from the American line he would lose his post.' James McGrory, a British businessman in Uzbekistan, said, 'The common belief is that Mr Murray is being sacrificed to the Americans.'