How Come We Didn’t Know? Privatisation: the corporate takeover of our NHS

How Come We Didn’t Know? This is an exhibition by photographer Marion Macalpine that aims to spread awareness of the privatisation of the NHS as widely as possible. The exhibition was launched in Stoke Newington in early May at a NHS hustings organised by Hackney KONP (Keep Our NHS Public) for the local elections.
The exhibition features around 20 photographs of private health company buildings, each with an information panel highlighting the relevant corporation’s involvement in the privatisation of our NHS. Through her exhibition Marion Macalpine explores the many facets of NHS privatisation, such as PFI (private finance initiative), private companies masquerading as NHS under the NHS logo; the cherry-picking of ‘low risk’, profitable patients which, in turn increases costs to whatever may be left of the publicly-run NHS; fraud or tax avoidance; and, private corporations behind-the-scenes involvement in trade treaties such as TTIP, the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

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An East London story: Harmoni – out of hours GP service
Not a happy tale. Eventually an enterprise led by local GPs took on responsibility for running the OOH service after Harmoni’s failures. The social enterprise had previously tried several times to win the contract. Unfortunately, some GP practices in Hackney are now under threat themselves due to changes, i.e. cuts, to GP funding. Some of the GPs who stepped into the breach left in Harmoni’s wake are now at risk of losing their day jobs.

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Keeping close to issues having a direct impact on East London…
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI): The Royal London, Whitechapel; Barts Health Trust. The £1.1billion PFI used to build the Royal London is costing East London taxpayers £115million per year and will eventually cost us over £7billion. That’s an amazingly good return on investment for the private partner! It also creates issues at our local East London hospitals with staff retention, keeping wards open and patient care.

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Corporates masquerading as NHS: Virgin Care
Why does it matter that Virgin uses the NHS logo rather than its own corporate signage at the Jarvis Screening Centre? To answer a question with questions: do you like being misled? Why would they choose not to use their own logo which they seek to promote so energetically elsewhere?

As NHA Party Co-Leader Dr Clive Peedell explains: “These firms are funded by the NHS so they are allowed to use the NHS logo. You can even go to the NHS branding website and see where it tells private companies how to use it as it has a 95 per cent satisfaction and approval rating. The public are duped into believing they are getting NHS care while these companies are siphoning off profits.”

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Corporates can maximise profits by accepting only routine cases: Care UK; BMI Health Care

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“Hospitals are paid a standard rate for specific treatments, regardless of any complications. But private hospitals can cherry-pick their patients and refer those with more complex needs back to the NHS for treatment and still get paid for authorising their referrals.

This privately-run centre has these criteria for accepting NHS patients:
The patient
– does not require complex surgery or prolonged inpatient rehabilitation
– does not have a chronic disease that would require intermediate post-operative care
– has a Body Mass Index of 40 or less
– does not have sickle cell anaemia, complex clotting disorders or significant renal failure”
In other words if you’re obese or really ill they can’t turn a profit and don’t want you. This approach sucks funding away from publicly-operated NHS services. Anyone with complex needs will be left to the publicly-operated NHS yet the hospitals receive the same tariff irrespective of care requirements.

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Corporates can hide profits in tax havens: Spire

Spire seem quite delighted by the opportunity the UK private health market offers to them. Money from the public purse when siphoned through Luxembourg can be used to annul their UK tax bill.

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Corporates can dump unprofitable contracts: Ramsay Health (and Serco)

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Dumping contracts can not only poison the finances of the health trust concerned but can have a knock-on effect that threatens neighbouring health trusts.

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Having also dumped several contracts, Serco (accused of corruption, see below) recently announced its plans to withdraw from the UK clinical health services market due to lack of profitability.

Some corporates deliver dangerous care: BMI Health Care

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Some corporates accused of corruption: Serco

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US health giant, The Hospital Corporation of America was forced to pay over $1.7billion in settlements after US allegations of fraud. HCA is reportedly planning to expand into the NHS.
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UPDATE 27th August 2014: : Serco is embroiled in a fresh misuse of public funds scandal after a company it set up overcharged NHS hospitals millions of pounds.

All in it together – how politicians, lobbyists and global corporations cooperate and how this may lead to the permanent loss of our publicly-funded, publicly-operated NHS…

Big Pharma lobby group – links with the NHS: Specialist Healthcare Alliance and JMC Partners. Public money paid to Big Pharma to consult on how to spend public money!

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The Voluntary Sector used as a Trojan horse: ACEVO

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Global consultancies and the NHS: KPMG, public money funding privatisation of the NHS

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NHS opened up to EU competition law: Department of Business and Innovation

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International trade agreements cement permanent NHS privatisation: TTIP, J.P. Morgan and the City of London Corporation

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What can YOU do about this?


You can join local people in your area campaigning against the TTIP on Saturday 30th August. Details here.

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To discuss using the exhibition for your NHS campaign please leave a message for us pass on to Marion Macalpine, or contact konph@hackneykeepournhspublic.org

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Chingford and Woodford Green – you can help the NHS!

From 38 Degrees…

Gloria who lives in Chingford and Woodford Green is meeting next Saturday, the 30th August, to spread the word about the sinister EU-US trade deal TTIP. Are you free?

Joining in on the day is easy. As soon as you sign up using the link below, you’ll be able to see the plans in Chingford and Woodford Green and chat to the rest of your group. So will you join in with Gloria and give an hour or two on Saturday 30th August? Please sign up now to make sure the office team has time to send you a pack of flyers.

If you aren’t able to join the action please donate here to help fund the materials.

Here’s a map of your area and the volunteers who have signed up so far. The plan is simple. The link takes you to a page on the 38 Degrees website where you can connect with Gloria near you. Once you’ve clicked the link you’ll need to pop in a few details, and then you can start making plans with the other 38 Degrees members in your area.

The 38 Degrees office team will send you a pack. It’ll include a badge, a poster, bumper stickers, and leaflets for you to hand out. The leaflets explain the dangers of the trade deal in plain English and lets people know how they can take action too.

Already, over 120,000 38 Degrees members have signed a petition against TTIP. There are lots of parts of the deal to worry about. It’ll make privatisation of our services like the NHS and National Rail irreversible. It’ll also allow big corporations to sue our government if they make changes to the law that affect the businesses’ profits – like raising the minimum wage. [1]

The government is not going to have a sudden change of heart on TTIP unless they’re bombarded with questions and opposition. The only way we can do this is through people power – making sure as many of us as possible know about it. Whatever you can do to raise awareness of TTIP where you live will help.

So can you spare an hour or two and join thousands of 38 Degrees members to campaign against TTIP?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/ttip-leaflet-action

Thanks for being involved,

Megan, Nat, James, Barney, Blanche and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Independent: British sovereignty ‘at risk’ from EU-US trade deal: UK in danger of surrendering judicial independence to multinational corporations, warn activists:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-sovereignty-at-risk-from-euus-trade-deal-uk-in-danger-of-surrendering-judicial-independence-to-multinational-corporations-warn-activists-9057318.html
Touchstone: Special courts for foreign investors have no place in trade deals:
http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2013/11/special-courts-for-foreign-investors-have-no-place-in-trade-deals/

NHAP representative’s write-up of The People’s Parliament – Save Our NHS

Following the successful launch of the NHAP European election campaign I decided to attend a session of The People’s Parliament last night in the House of Commons. It was the first time I had ever set foot inside the Houses of Parliament. I was unsure what to expect.

The only snag came during the screening upon entering the complex. While I encourage you to carry your #stickupfortheNHS stickers with you at all times, if you try to take them into parliament your stickers will be confiscated, despite my assurances that I’m not going to plaster stickers everywhere. I’m not a child. Tempting mind! Thankfully a receipt was issued and stickers were returned.

You can read more about the panellists who spoke at the meeting here. The panel included Dr Jacky Davis of Keep Our NHS Public. Dr Davis gave the National Health Action Party credit for pressuring Labour into taking a stance (of sorts) to exempt the NHS from TTIP. More on Labour and TTIP here.

Opposing TTIP was a key theme of the discussion. Read this article to learn why we at NHAP think it is so vital to exempt the NHS from the treaty. This is not an anti-trade stance, this is not an anti-American stance. This is an anti-entombing-the-NHS-in-privatisation-forever stance. I pointed out that people need to be more vocal about the fact that the ‘public consultation’ is a sham. I’m going to try to grapple with this some more. I believe that the online questionnaire (full version here) is designed to be inaccessible.

Here’s the intro:

Given the length of this consultation we strongly recommend that you print out the consultation notice and the consultation document and prepare your answers off-line before completing the questionnaire.

It is not technically possible to save your answers in the questionnaire and come back to it later. Your session on-line will remain open for 90 minutes for you to fill out your answers.

I can only assume that it is deliberately complicated in order to put us off. I feel highly motivated to oppose the ISDS element of TTIP in particular. I simply do not have half a day to devote to completing this questionnaire. The issues are in fact not impenetrable so why is the alleged consultation so unwieldy? As I stated during the meeting, this consultation is only taking place at all very late in the whole process because people from many EU countries are opposing TTIP. This questionnaire is designed not for consultation but to give the authorities something to which they can refer back and tell us that we had the opportunity to have input and we elected not to make good use of that opportunity. In short, this stinks!

The People’s Parliament was set up by Labour MP John McDonnell to stimulate debate in the build up to the 2015 general election. It would be good to have a broader cross-section of views represented within the People’s Parliament. I wonder whether the other main parties can be tempted to join? It would be good not to have need for a People’s Parliament. Isn’t parliament meant to be the people’s parliament anyway? We can dream. The anti-Labour feeling in the room must have made the Chair, East London MP John Cryer feel uncomfortable.

There was a great discussion about what must be done to put the Labour leadership under pressure to have faith in the public’s faith in the NHS and their strong desire to keep it. There was a gentle reminder that some pressure should be applied to the Lib Dems too. Many of their supporters are strongly pro-NHS. The NHS could be an election-winner. The plain fact is that the majority of Conservative voters want the NHS to remain public. The merits of appealing to the party to repeal the Health and Social Care Act are beyond me but I’m interested to hear whether anyone thinks it an idea worth pursuing.

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I received a round of applause when I introduced myself as an MEP candidate for the National Health Action Party which was unexpected. I took this as a welcome sign for the party’s prospects. We just need to get our message out more broadly so lend us your voices please!

As I have said, there was a lot of talk around ‘what to do about Labour?’. One of the other panellists Jill Mountford, from Save Lewisham Hospital said people need not to vote for “all of these smaller, fringe parties” and get Labour into government in 2015 while pressuring Labour into recovering its passion for the NHS. The National Health Action Party view is in accord with this train of thought which is why we intend to focus our General Election 2015 efforts on contesting around 30 constituencies that are currently held by Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs. Thankfully Jacky Davis made this point. We had been told nobody was going to get a second chance to speak so that was me gagged.

It was clear from the mood in the room that enough people think Labour have split their core vote themselves. Unfortunately for everyone who loves the NHS, which is pretty much everyone in the UK, we will need a Labour majority government in order to restore the NHS and make it the brilliant service we need for the 21st Century.

All the best,

Andrew Sharp
Prospective MEP for London

Disclaimer: I feel it only fair that I point out that I am not generally a Labour supporter. I have voted for them once or twice. I’ve also voted Conservative and (far more often) for the Lib Dems. Have voted Green too. Have never, would never vote UKIP.