The government's plans to work more closely with the private sector to plug gaps in NHS provision have come under attack from the chair of the Commons health select committee.

Labour MP David Hinchliffe told HSJ he feared the long-term implications of the proposal: 'I have some concerns over the message that is coming out on working with the private sector.

'You have only to look at mental health services to see how a short-term fix can become a long-term standing arrangement.'

Mr Hinchliffe's dissent from party policy comes as three Conservative members of his select committee refused to support parts of its recent report on consultants' contracts.

The report, published last week, suggested that trust managers should force NHS consultants to reveal how many hours they spend on private practice and eventually ban them from doing private work.

It is the first time the committee has been split, which Mr Hinchliffe described as 'rather sad'.

He pointed out that of 60 paragraphs in the report, there were only two on private practice they could not all agree on.

Conservative MP Simon Burns said it was 'naive' to try to separate the private and public sector.

'I think the government will support our thinking on that. I don't think in a month of Sundays they will allow the current co-operation to be split apart.'

Launching the report, Mr Hinchliffe, well known for his anti-private sector views, called on the Department of Health to look at which incentives might be introduced to keep the best consultants in the NHS.

The report also calls for tighter procedures for dealing with consultants, better information on hours worked by consultants and for trusts to implement job plans, which were meant to be introduced 10 years ago.

It adds that the DoH should set minimum standards on information to be collected and criteria to be applied to ensure that all trusts do it properly.

Health Committee. Third Report: consultants' contracts .

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