Tory underfunding has just forced an NHS trust to privatise surgeries to free up bed space for impending winter crisis

From Evolve Politics: The University Hospitals Plymouth Trust has been forced to move its entire elective orthopaedic service to the private provider, Care UK, in a desperate attempt to free up extra bed space in time for the now routine underfunding-induced winter NHS crisis.

[Read article on Evolve Politics…]

Billionaire Branson’s Virgin Care successfully sues NHS for £2m in public money

From RT: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Care group successfully sued the NHS, after losing out on an £82m contract to provide children’s healthcare services in Surrey – pocketing £2m of public money in the process.

The billionaire business magnate’s Virgin Care firm began High Court proceedings against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in November 2016. They did so for what they saw as “serious flaws in the procurement process” to secure a large contract to provide children’s medical services in Surrey.

It’s been revealed that they secured an out-of-court settlement in November 2017 that totalled £2m, reports the Daily Mail.

Newly-released accounts show that NHS England and six CCGs paid Virgin Care £1.565 million. Surrey County Council handed Branson’s group £440,000 and at least £243,000 more was diverted from frontline NHS services to pay for legal fees.

[Read full article on RT website…]

Theresa May refuses to rule out selling off the NHS in post-Brexit trade deal with Trump

From Business Insider UK: Theresa May has been accused of secretly plotting to sell off the NHS after declining a request to rule out making the NHS part of any future post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The prime minister was asked by Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable in the House of Commons to give an “absolute guarantee” that the NHS “will not be for sale” when the UK government begins negotiations with the Donald Trump administration.

However, May declined the opportunity, saying the UK did not yet know what “requirements” the US would make as part of any deal. “We are starting the discussions with the American administration,” May replied. “He doesn’t know what they are going to say in their requirements for that free trade agreements. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.”

[Read full article on Business Insider UK website…]

NHS privatisation is ‘killing people’: Unite slams Tory NHS treatment ahead of march

From Unite Live: Hundreds of thousands of NHS campaigners will converge in London on Saturday 3rd February to demand the Tories fix the embattled health service.

In response to the unprecedented and growing crisis afflicting the NHS, the People’s Assembly has called a mass protest against the government’s deliberate dismantling of the health service.

Unions, actors, musicians and politicians have thrown their support behind the protest as the indictments against the government’s shocking treatment of the NHS and the subsequent effects on patients and staff grow ever longer.

Two weeks ago it was revealed 20 people died over the Christmas period while waiting for ambulances from the critically “over stretched” East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

The revelation came after 68 senior doctors from England and Wales wrote to Theresa May to warn her that patients are “dying prematurely” because they are being treated in hospital corridors.

[Read full article on Unite Live…]

Tories planning to hand private firms ’10-15 year NHS contracts’ to stop Labour from renationalising

From Evolve Politics: A former Medical Director in the NHS has exposed deeply worrying details of ‘secret’ plans hatched by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to force through a ‘raft of secondary legislation’ (a method used by ruling governments to impose new rules without requiring a full vote in Parliament) that essentially allows the Conservative Party to hand unprecedented 10-15 year contracts to private healthcare firms to run NHS services – contracts that would be hugely expensive for any future government to get out of.

Jeremy Hunt’s ‘NHS-Americanisation’ style plan will reportedly give the Tories free reign to privatise numerous NHS services and award contracts that would ensure any future Labour government would have to pay through the roof to fully renationalise the service as they wish to do so, should they obtain power in the coming years.

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Hunt’s secret NHS plan opens the door to further privatisation

Dr Graham Wynyard writes on Jeremy Hunt and NHS England’s latest big idea is Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). These bodies would be allowed to make most decisions about how to allocate resources and design care for people in certain areas.

At the moment, that’s done by public bodies whose governance is regulated by statute, set up by parliament after wide consultation and sometimes fierce debate. ACOs, by contrast, can be private and for-profit bodies. They are not mentioned in any current legislation and would have no statutory functions. They are not subject to the statutory duties imposed on other parts of the NHS.

Although NHS England plan to get several ACOs up and running this year, no detailed policy proposals have been presented to parliament or the public. Indeed, details are so sparse that the House of Commons library briefing is forced to use definitions provided by the King’s Fund, a health think tank.

Hunt is planning to lay a raft of secondary legislation – which doesn’t require a full parliamentary vote – in February, so that the first ones can be up and running by April 1st.

The ACOs are going to be given long-term commercial contracts of between ten and 15 years. We know these are difficult to get right and expensive to get out of. Think of Virgin and the East Coast Main Line or the private finance initiative, which has left the NHS paying hundreds of millions to offshore finance companies for hospitals that cannot now be afforded. Warnings about risks of PFI were once brushed aside as alarmist, often by the same people who now dismiss criticism of ACOs in similar terms.

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Time to end the NHS experiment with the market?

From NHS Support Federation:

  • The private sector share of NHS contracts is rising, as they focus increasingly on growing opportunities to provide community health services. For-profit companies won £3.1 billion worth of new contracts in the last year (16/17).
    This was 43% of the total value of awards advertised and their share has risen from 34% (15/16).
  • Virgin Care has been the most successful company in winning NHS clinical
    contracts – mostly to provide community healthcare, picking up over £1bn worth
    of NHS awards in 2016/17. Its latest awards are a £355m contract to provide children’s health services in Essex and a £65m award to run community health in West Lancashire. In each case the company is taking over services from the NHS and non-profit making providers. Virgin Care is now the dominant private provider in the NHS market – winning a third of the total value of contracts won by non-NHS providers over the last year. The number of services the company provides to the NHS has risen from 230 to 400 over last 12 months, according to its website.

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Private companies with financial links to Tory politicians won NHS contracts worth £1.5bn within three years

Private companies with financial links to Tory politicians won NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion between 2012 and 2014, according to research by the UK’s largest trade union.

Among those highlighted in Unite research is former health secretary Andrew Lansley, the chief architect of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act dubbed “the death of the NHS as we know it”. Lansley received a donation of £21,000 from Caroline Nash, the wife of John Nash, in 2009. At the time John Nash was chairman of Care UK, one of the UK’s largest health companies, which, according to Unite, won more than £650m in NHS contracts between 2012-2014.

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