few years ago I received by post a ‘poo kit’ as part of the NHS
bowel cancer screening programme. The instructions asked me to take
two samples on three separate occasions and send off in the
enclosed sealed envelope. I noticed that the address of the test
laboratory on the label was in Texas. My faeces was off to the USA!
companies have a growing presence in the NHS. This was initially
through providing support services such as IT, catering, portering,
laundry and cleaning. Today it has expanded to cover GP services,
urgent care, diagnostic services and non-emergency surgery, maternity
care, community nursing, physiotherapy, CT scanners, radiotherapy
machines, and ambulance services. Private companies are now involved
in running entire hospitals, including A&E departments, not to
mention hospital construction under the Private Finance Initiative
Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) enshrined privatisation as
official government policy, but it must not be forgotten that both
Blair and Brown’s ‘New Labour’ governments encouraged private
providers’ involvement in the health service.
Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) disclosed that its total
spending on all non-NHS bodies has risen from £10.32 billion in 2014
- 15 to £13.75 billion last year, an increase of £3.43 billion or
33% over four years.
means you may now find that your GP works for a company like Care UK.
Tests your GP orders on your behalf like blood tests or scans may be
carried out by companies such as In-health. If your GP refers you to
hospital for surgery, this might be to a privately-run centre, or to
an NHS hospital run by a company like Circle. On leaving hospital,
after care may be provided by Virgin Care.
is at its most extreme in the mental health and childcare provision
sphere. Dr John Lister, secretary of Keep Our NHS Public has said,
“Last year (2018), roughly 30% of
all mental health spending was in the private sector and 44% of
spending on child and adolescent mental health goes to private
of these private companies have links to twenty-four Tory
politicians. They include David Cameron, Andrew Landsley, Jo Johnson,
William Hague, Nadhim Zahawi, Nick Herbert, Chris Skidmore, Mark
Simmonds, Nicholas Soames, Kwasi Kwarteng and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
us look at a couple of these MPs.
Rees-Mogg, Leader of the House of Commons, who famously said that the
growth in food banks is “rather uplifting”, is the co-founder of
Somerset Capital, a £6.5 billion company based in London, the Cayman
Islands and Singapore. He stepped down from the company on his
appointment as Leader of the House of Commons, but was then
compensated with £1 million from the company’s 2018 profits. If
you search the company’s website, you will be no wiser as to how
they bring in the moola. Their mission statement has the clarity of
mud: “Assessing governance risk
and interacting with management teams to protect the value of our
investment has been a cornerstone of our investment process since the
firm was founded.”
I have discovered that Somerset Capital has received at least £4
million from one of their clients, Redwood Emerging Markets, who are
involved in health technologies and digital support projects. If you
want to know how difficult a task it is to get hold on this
information, check out this talk by Dominic Johnson of Somerset
Capital about Redwood Emerging Markets. Just as with their mission
statement above, what is he on about?
mind the obfuscations. Channel 4 Dispatches has assured their
viewers that there is little obfuscation in Rees-Mogg’s personal
finances. He has received over £7 million from Somerset Capital in
the last five years.
Zahawi, Tory MP and Construction Minister in the Johnson government, whose duties
include “better regulation and regulatory reform” is
non-executive director of Sthree which won a £2.6 million contract
from the NHS. He is paid £2,917 a month by the company for seven
hours work. He may have on his busy desk company reports on their
work replacing NHS primary care trusts with the company’s clinical
the second highest earning UK MP, Zahawi acts as Chief Strategy
officer for Gulf Keystone Petroleum. With all this work, he still
finds time to go riding, although he had to apologise to the Sunday
Mirror after they they published a report that he had claimed
£5,822 on his parliamentary costs for his stable’s electricity.
debate on the 2012 HSCA bill, Zahawi called it a “brilliant piece
of legislation”. Of course he did.
might think, So what? So long as treatment remains free when I go to
my GP or when I am admitted to hospital, I need not worry. But with
growing waiting lists for consultations and surgeries, NHS
inadequacies open the door to privatised solutions. And they are
already in place or scratching at the door to get in. And not just UK
Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) has a lobbying group that
supports the role of private company participation in the NHS. The US
hospital operator, Tenet Healthcare, acquired Aspen Healthcare in
2015, an operator of private hospitals and clinics in the UK. Tenet
said that it hoped that owning Aspen would provide “increasing
opportunities to work with and support the National Health Service”.
They went on to note that “privatisation of UK marketplace, given
market inefficiencies and pressures on the National Health Service,
should create organic and de novo opportunities” for their
to expect from all this? Just two examples of what awaits us. The
cancer / HIV drug Daraprim presently costs £2.30 per pill in the UK.
In the USA the price is £619 per pill. Cataract surgery costs £800
in this country. In the USA that price is £5,780.
why are so many of the UK companies involved with the health service
registered abroad? Surely not to evade the taxes which fund their
have a struggle on our hands to save the NHS. With the Tories
actively voting for more and more privatisation and with the Lib Dems
abstaining, no prizes for who will do the fighting.
personal note. As someone whose life has been saved three times by
the NHS in the last four years, I will be campaigning for a Jeremy
Corbyn-led Labour government.