“The vast majority” of NHS care will “always and quite rightly” be provided by “public sector organisations and paid for out of taxation”, according to the man at the heart of a storm over accusations of NHS privatisation.

KPMG global head of healthcare Mark Britnell was asked by HSJ to respond to an article carried in Sunday’s Observer which quoted him as telling a US conference the government’s reforms would show the NHS “no mercy” and offer a “big opportunity” to the for-profit sector.

The article also made reference to an opinion piece written by the KPMG director in last week’s HSJ in which he argued the NHS funding model might no longer be “resilient”.

Mr Britnell’s views attracted attention because he was one of a group of senior figures invited to meet with David Cameron’s health adviser Paul Bate earlier this month. The Department of Health’s former director general for commissioning did not attend the meeting as he was overseas.  

In response to HSJ’s request, Mr Britnell issued a personal statement in which he states: “The article in The Observer attributes quotes to me that do not reflect the discussion that took place.”

He continues: “The NHS…can be better. It can deliver greater efficiency and better quality through care integration and a better mix of public and private provision.”

He adds: “Competition is not the panacea for the NHS, but it can work in selected areas, especially around short, planned episodes of care. Like most industries, proper transformation of antiquated business models is also necessary and often disruptive innovation comes from third parties.”

The KPMG partner criticised the debate over NHS reform for becoming “too polarised” and said “political hyperbole is making it difficult for the public to see some of the pressing issues.”

Read Mr Britnell’s full statement.