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NHS Privatisation Via Private Healthcare Companies Contract Awards Continues

The Tory planned privatisation via stealth of the NHS continues with billions of pounds worth of contracts being given to private healthcare companies like Virgincare, and Circle Health. The vast majority of new contracts to provide NHS services went to private companies last year – more than £10bn of public money assigned to the NHS in 2013.

These private companies hide behind the NHS logo, whilst siphoning off a profit.  Virgincare’s declared profit margin from each contract results in a 10% hike in costs to the NHS budget.

With the Financial Times reporting that, around £5.8bn of NHS work is currently being advertised to the private sector, it is obvious that the NHS is slowly being privatised through contract awards.

Pic: Healthcare professionals network article - click to read full articleSuch is the concern amongst GPs and healthcare specialists, that in The Guardian newspaper’s Healthcare Professionals section, the latest article is an item by Kailash Chand, a GP since 1983 and deputy chair of the BMA.

On the issue of the privatisation of the NHS, he writes:

‘In my view competition is nonsense when it comes to healthcare, and choice is an illusion; delivering them on the back of commissioning private providers is hoodwinking the British public. These are businesses that are run for shareholders and they work on the basis of profit margins firstly, and then promotion of health.

From the perspective of patients and taxpayers this bias is undesirable – a recipe for overcharging, over-treatment and corner-cutting on safety. There are no evidence-based examples of successful healthcare relying on the principles of the free market. Already, patients are being denied prompt hip or cataract operations – and the list of hard-to-get services will increase, reducing the NHS to a skeleton.

Money that could be spent on patient care is being spent on unnecessary bureaucracy, management consultants, tender procurement, debt interest and dividends.’

In his article which discusses the effects of the Tory-led coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 and concludes by asking:

‘Do we really want an NHS that is obsessed with private companies tendering for the work? Or do we want a health service that is passionate about caring for the seriously ill and vulnerable? It doesn't have the ability to do both, and given its roots and origin, the Health and Social Care Act has created a schism that is causing turmoil.’

In an earlier article, the GP wrote:

‘In the past two years, £11bn worth of our NHS has been put up for sale, while 35,000 staff have been axed, including 5,600 nurses. Half of our 600 ambulance stations are earmarked for closure. One-third of NHS walk-in centres have been closed and 10% of A&E units have been shut. Waiting lists for operations are at their longest in years as hospitals are consumed by the crisis in A&E.’

He added:

‘We are inexorably moving toward a system ruled by bogus choice, competition, market forces and diversity of suppliers. By opening every NHS corner to "any qualified provider", the whole service can be taken over by private companies, with a few token charities and mutuals. NHS hospitals, faced with the consequences of cherry-picking by private consortia, risk bankruptcy when left to deal only with complex cases.’

He concluded:

'Since 2012's Health and Social Care Act scrapped the government's duty to secure a comprehensive health service, Hunt is now legally – if not morally – able to wash his hands of the entire mess – a situation that must be reversed urgently, and democratic accountability restored.

We need to fight for universal healthcare as a basic human right, regardless of whether we live in flourishing suburbs or inner-city deprived areas. Passionate supporters of the NHS and ordinary people alike must speak out about their discontent with the government's reforms, just as the kid did to avoid further embarrassment to a narcissistic Emperor and a nation that would have suffered the consequences of self-indulgent behaviour.’

His conclusion makes it clear that each and every one of us needs to take action in order to save the NHS. Otherwise, as Oliver Letwin the Tory joint author of a 1980’s paper which promoted the idea of foundation hospitals in the NHS said:

Source: Guardian Healthcare Professionals Forum / Unionsafety

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