Monday, 15 May 2017

NHS sell-out: Tories sign largest privatisation deal in history worth £780MILLION

The sales to a total of 11 private firms, some with dubious records, are intended to help hospitals tackle the backlog of patients waiting for surgery and tests.

Jeremy Hunt’s claims that the NHS is not for sale lay in tatters last night after he signed the largest privatisation deal in history.
The Health Secretary, who has repeatedly denied health services are being siphoned off to private firms under this Government, faced furious reactions as the £780million deal was revealed.
Heart, joint and a variety of operations will be carried out, as well as scans, X-rays and other diagnostic tests. Under the deal struck by the NHS Supply Chain, many services will be provided in mobile units, rather than hospitals.
The news was met by anger, not least because three of the 11 profit-driven firms have previously been slammed for providing poor quality of care.
Vanguard faces legal action over a series of eye operations carried out in 2014 at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset. The hospital terminated its contract with Vanguard after just four days as a result of problems.
Circle – which pulled out of running Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire – is in line to share up to £240million for providing imaging services, such as scans and X-rays. It will also provide services within operating theatres.
And Care UK was previously slammed by the CQC for the quality of care at two nursing homes it runs in Suffolk.
Doctors, anti-privatisation campaigners and unions today said they were outraged by the scale of the contract handed to the private firms.
And they warned the move would be “detrimental” to patient care.
Barrie Brown, national officer for health at union Unite, said: “This is further evidence of the helter-skelter rush to privatise the NHS.
“Great swathes of the NHS are being gobbled up by these 11 private companies, hungry for profit. It will further fragment services and be detrimental to patient care.”
Unison head of health, Christina McAnea, added: “There wouldn’t be such a crisis and backlog if ministers had properly invested in the NHS. Instead they’ve starved it of funds and demoralised staff.
“This is a desperate and dangerous attempt by the government to fix its succession of mistakes, and is also a huge betrayal of public trust.
"More worryingly, we now have companies with terrible track records being given money to provide essential services.”
Prof Sue Richards, chair of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, also said she was angry the contract had been awarded to firms “demonstrated to provide sub-standard care”.
She added: “We have warned against creeping privatisation, but now the pace is quickening to a gallop.
"This case clearly demonstrates the Government is putting its own ideological commitment to the market and to the vested interests of the private health care industry ahead of patients’ needs.
“No wonder the future of the NHS is the top issue in the election.”
The 11 firms stand to pocket up to £780million between now and December 2018.
It beats the previous record NHS privatisation deal, which led to Virgin Care winning a £500million contract to provide community services in Surrey until 2017.
The NHS Business Services Authority, which oversees NHS Supply Chain, said the deal broke down to five contracts with maximum values of £240million, £160million, £240million, £80million and £60million, adding up to £780million.
A NHSBSA spokesman said: “This was introduced to provide a central point from which mobile and strategic clinical services could be procured efficiently.
“NHS organisations can choose to utilise this route to market if needed saving time and resources, by not having to undertake formal public procurement locally.”
But Dr Clive Peedell, a cancer doctor and co-leader of the National Health Action party, which launched its general election campaign today, said: “This government has spent the past four and half years starving the NHS of cash.
All the main political parties have pledged to boost its funding if they are elected in May.
They are promising it for the simple reason that if they don’t, the NHS will cease to exist.
  • 22:30, 12 MAR 2015
  • UPDATED16:41, 10 MAY 2015

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