Hunt warned over private hospital safety after NHS patient death (HSJ: 23 April 2018)

The safety of NHS patients treated in private hospitals has been raised directly with health secretary Jeremy Hunt following the death of an NHS patient.

Assistant coroner for Manchester West Simon Nelson has written to the health and social care secretary warning about poor processes for emergency transfers, the lack of responsibility private companies have for consultants they use, and junior doctors working alone for 24 hour shifts with a lack of training and monitoring.

He has given Mr Hunt until next month to respond, following his investigation into the care of 77 year old Peter O’Donnell. 

Mr O’Donnell, who was an NHS patient, died in January 2017 after hip replacement surgery at BMI Healthcare’s Beaumont Hospital in Bolton. His hospital-acquired pneumonia was not properly recognised by staff, who dialled 999 to rush him to the Royal Bolton Hospital four days after his surgery, where he suffered a cardiac arrest resulting from organ failure and sepsis. He died a few days later having never regained consciousness.

The coroner said Mr O’Donnell showed signs of a chest infection which were not acted on. He said: “Thereafter, by reason of ineffective communication between professionals, irregular observations and inadequate documentation, opportunities to escalate his care were missed. Antibiotic therapy was significantly delayed.” more


'Vulnerable patients' face ongoing caps to care funding (HSJ: 2 March 2018)

Commissioners have been allowed to continue applying cost caps to the more than £3bn of NHS Continuing Healthcare claims as long as they follow new new government rules.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s new framework, developed in partnership with NHS England, does not explicitly ban cost caps as long as commissioners take into account an individual’s needs when they do so.

CHC pays for ongoing care for adults, described by the DHSC as ”some of the most vulnerable in our society” and who are assessed as having a primary medical care need in a community setting. It is arranged and funded solely by the NHS and in 2015-16 cost the service approximately £3.1bn more

Former Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley blames NHS cuts for failure to diagnose his bowel cancer (The Independent: 3 April 2018)

A former Conservative health secretary has blamed government cuts to the NHS budget for failing to detect his bowel cancer sooner.

Andrew Lansley said cuts “wrongly” imposed by the Treasury had frustrated the delivery of a screening programme he introduced in 2010.

The Tory peer said doctors have told him he has “every reason to hope” his cancer can be effectively treated, keeping him alive for the long more

Government ‘lacks credible plan’ for improving GP access, say MPs (Pulse: 27 April 2017)

The Government's plans to boost access to GP appointments and expand the workforce lack credibility, according to an influentiual committee of MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee made the comments in a progress report on the Government's GP access programme, which aims to deliver 8am-8pm routine appointments to all, seven days a week, by 2020 and 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

According to the report, the Government is 'moving ahead in rolling out extended hours without really understanding the level of access currently being provided or how to get the best from existing resources'.

It also noted that there is a risk that the evening and weekend GP appointments pledge ‘could prove expensive and duplicate existing out-of-hours services’

On access, the report also noted that 'many GP services are closed to patients at times during supposedly core hours, leading to worse outcomes for patients'.

It highlighted NHS England's attempts to address this via the changes to the extended hours DES in this year’s GMS contract and recommended that NHS England reports back on progress later this year.

The report further warned that there had been 'no progress’ on increasing the number of GPs in the past year, following the latest GP workforce figures which showed the full-time workforce dropped by 1.3% (400 GPs) in the last three months of 2016.

The MPs said that NHS bosses ‘still lack a credible plan for ensuring that there are enough GPs…in the right areas’ more

Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt tell Theresa May of secret plans to close rural chemists despite assurances to MPs (Telegraph: 26 March 2017)

Ministers are planning to allow hundreds of rural chemists to close across the country despite repeated assurances to MPs this would not happen, The Telegraph can disclose.

In private letters to Theresa May, last August Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt warned that pharmacies would have to close because of the cut in a subsidy worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the hard-pressed pharmacies.

The Cabinet ministers’ warnings appear to be at odds with ministers’ repeated public claims in Parliament and in official documents that no closures are likely.

They also appear to confirm that Mrs May is concerned about the plans and had to seek reassurances from Mr Hammond, the Chancellor, and Mr Hunt, the Health secretary.

Campaigners said the letters amounted to a "smoking gun" which laid bare the Government's indifference to saving rural pharmacies.

The concerns stems from a Government decision to cut a subsidy for pharmacies in rural and deprived areas by £208million in the 2017/18.

The cut has led to concerns that pharmacies in rural areas will close forcing the elderly to have to travel further for medicines.

According to letters disclosed in a High Court challenge to the plans, and seen by The Telegraph, Mr Hammond and Mr Hunt warned that the cut will result in the closure of pharmacies.

Mr Hunt told Mrs May on August 2 the cut would mean that “500-900 pharmacies will close”, in a letter that was copied to Mr more

Theresa May refuses to exclude NHS contracts from US trade deals (The Guardian: 7 February 2018)

Theresa May has refused to rule out giving US companies access to NHS contracts as part of a future trade deal with Donald Trump’s White House.

At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, challenged May over how she would respond if Washington pushed for access to Britain’s public services for US corporations.

“The prime minister knows that one of the key objectives of American trade negotiators in any future deal after Brexit is to secure access for American companies to business in the NHS,” he said. “Can she give an absolute guarantee that in those negotiations the NHS will be excluded from their scope? And can she confirm that in her conversations with President Trump she’s made it absolutely clear to him that the NHS is not for sale?” more


Fix the NHS: Protesters rally in London to call for government action (The Guardian: 3 February 2018)

Health workers, activists and unions are marching in central London on Saturday to protest against government inaction over the NHS winter crisis.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed in recent weeks by a surge in admissions that has led to delays of up to 12 hours on emergency wards, patients left on trollies for hours and thousands of patients forced to wait in ambulances before receiving urgent care. 

Two pressure groups, the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, have organised the rally to call on the government to plug funding and resource gaps in the health more

Jeremy Hunt accused of compromising weekday hospital care (The Guardian: 2 January 2017)

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been accused of compromising the care patients receive during the week by not taking forward his pledge to hire more junior doctors to help deliver a seven-day NHS.

The Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said that with juniors now having to work more at weekends, already under-staffed hospitals had fewer medics on duty on weekdays.

He said Hunt had done little to make good on the hiring pledge he made in parliament during the year-long dispute over junior doctors’ contracts.

“My fear is that unless you can guarantee that there will be more junior doctors employed, imposing a change which involves more hours being worked at weekends will inevitably reduce the numbers of hours worked during weekdays when the pressure is at its greatest,” Lamb said. “This could result in real safety concerns.”

In a letter to Lamb, Hunt failed to provide any detail of how many more junior medics would be trained and employed this year or any other year before the end of this parliament in 2020.

He has previously acknowledged the potential for too few doctors being on duty between Monday and Friday as a result of the new contract he imposed in October on all 54,000 junior doctors working in the NHS in England.

Hunt told Lamb that it was up to hospital trusts to expand their junior doctor workforce, raising doubt that his previous assurance would be acted on.

Nor did the letter provide any detail on how many extra trainee medics would join the NHS this year, despite Hunt having told Lamb in the House of Commons on 5 September that he would give him a more


Pharmaceutical firms paying members of panel which oversees NHS drug procurement (Telegraph: 18 February 2016)

 More than one in three members of the government panel overseeing the NHS’s procurement of medicines across Britain has been carrying out paid work for drugs companies, a Telegraph investigation has revealed.

Ten senior officials in the Department of Health’s (DH) Pharmaceutical Mar­ket Support Group (PMSG) are acting as consultants to pharmaceutical firms alongside their role on the panel.

Individual members have been flown to locations such as Vienna and Munich.

One, an assistant director at Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group in south Lon­don, received money to take part in 23 ad­visory board meetings in the last year.

Today’s disclosures come after Alistair Burt, the health minister, launched an urgent inquiry following The Telegraph’s report yesterday on how more than 130 officials involved in assessing which drugs are given to patients are also acting as paid consultants to pharmaceutical companies.

He pledged action against NHS staff “attempting to influence purchasing decisions in return for payment, gifts or hospitality.”

Several officials have gone on to take part in decisions about adopting the drugs they had been paid to advise the manufacturers on.

NHS England said the behaviour described in the reports was “unacceptable”...(read more)


Andrew Lansley takes post advising drugs firm involved in dispute with NHS (The Guardian: 17 November 2015)

Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, has taken on three more private sector jobs, including advising a pharmaceuticals firm at the centre of a row over the price it charges the NHS for cancer drugs.

Despite David Cameron’s promise in 2010 to end the “revolving door” between Whitehall and the private sector, the recently ennobled Tory peer has declared work as an adviser to Roche, the Swiss drugs company, and as an adviser to private equity firm Blackstone on investments in the health sector.

Roche has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the cancer drugs fund that Lansley set up in 2010 to pay for life-extending medicines that were considered too expensive by the NHS.

His work involves advising on “pharmaceutical supply and pricing issues in Europe” until the end of November, according to his House of Lords register of more


Ex-health secretary Andrew Lansley to advise firms on healthcare reforms (The Guardian: 21 October 2015)

Andrew Lansley, the architect of the coalition government’s efforts to privatise parts of the NHS, has taken a job advising corporate clients on healthcare reforms despite David Cameron’s pledge to close the “revolving door” between Whitehall and the private sector.

The management consultants Bain & Company took on Lord Lansley in August. The newly ennobled Conservative peer also plans to become an active associate of a “strategic communications consultancy” set up by his wife and will advise on health and social care.

His appointments will raise eyebrows because Lansley, who was health secretary for two years until 2012, is still blamed by many in the health service for the Health and Social Care Act, which critics said increased the privatisation of the NHS.

According to documents released by the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba), which approved the roles, Lansley’s job with Bain will involve “leading a discussion on innovation in healthcare for Bain’s clients and consultants”. He does not include details of how much he is being paid or the hours he will work in the part-time more


Top Tory claims HALF of NHS beds are facing the axe fuelling fears of health privatisation (The Mirror: 6 October 2015)

A senior Tory privately suggested that 50% of NHS beds could be axed. Lord Prior – now NHS Productivity Minister – emailed a consultancy firm after it paid for him to tour private health facilities in the US.

It fuels fears the Tories are intent on privatisation.

More than 13,000 beds have already gone since David Cameron became Prime Minister – and the latest revelation will fuel fears the Tories are intent on privatising the health service.

Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, warned the Government was “already doing” what Lord Prior suggested in his email.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he added: “ The NHS in 2015 is demoralised, degraded, confused.

“Lord Prior’s description of cutting 50% of beds is already being enacted. Several thousand hospital beds have already been axed.”

Lord Prior made his bombshell disclosure to a senior executive at consultancy firm McKinsey after the pair enjoyed a luxury tour of private health facilities in the US. The £3,000 trip was paid for by McKinsey, which earns millions of pounds supplying services to the NHS and advising private healthcare clients that also do so. In an email to the McKinsey boss obtained by the Daily Mirror under freedom of information laws, Lord Prior listed six “big messages” he had taken home, one being: “NHS not as a bad as we think.”

He also wrote: “But biggest message is scale of likely change 50 per cent of hospital beds could close.” The name of the McKinsey senior executive was redacted in the email released to this more


Former Tory MP wastes little time advising private health firms how to capitalise on NHS changes (The Mirror: 22 June 2015)

Two-job Tory Stephen Dorrell was the star speaker a “private healthcare breakfast” for firms looking to profit from the Conservatives’ election victory.

The shameless ex-Health Secretary told fatcat bosses the NHSshould no longer be seen as a “national religion” but a “service sector” with huge economic value.

Mr Dorrell sparked outrage last year by joining accountancy giant KPMG as private health adviser while still a serving MP.

After finally stepping down as the Tory MP for Charnwood last month he wasted no time in offering firms advice on how to capitalise on the Tories’ election success.

“This is yet another example of the revolving door between the Tory Party and private health companies,” raged Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary.

“Just days after leaving Parliament, Dorrell has let the mask slip on his party’s real intentions for the NHS."... read more


Chief executive of firm accused of 'ripping off' NHS on staffing is a Tory donor (The Independent: 6 June 2015)

The chief executive of a private equity firm that owns one of the staffing agencies accused by the government of “ripping off” the NHS is a major donor to the Conservative Party, The Independent can reveal.

Ramez Sousou, founder and co-chief executive of transatlantic private equity firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, which owns Independent Clinical Services (ICS), has donated just under half a million pounds to the party since 2010, including more than £75,000 since his company bought ICS last year. Mr Sousou founded TowerBrook in 2005 and retains a stake in the company.

His wife, Tiziana Cantoni, who is not connected to TowerBrook, has also donated personal funds to the party.

On Tuesday the Government announced a drive to crack down on agencies providing nurses to NHS trusts, which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said are ripping off hospitals with “extortionate” fees.... read more


General Election 2015: Tory election chief Lynton Crosby's firm planned to expand role of private healthcare in UK (The independent: 4 May 2015)

A firm run by the Tories’ election chief, Lynton Crosby, devised a plan to lobby David Cameron to expand the role of private healthcare in the UK.

A strategy paper, drawn up by Mr Crosby’s firm CTF Partners and seen by The Independent, proposed targeting key government figures, including the Prime Minister, to enhance the “size, acceptability and profitability of the private healthcare market”. It also stated that “insufficient public funds” were a strategic “opportunity” for private healthcare firms. It added the campaign’s long-term strategy should be “achieving decision-maker recognition that health investment in the UK can only grow by expanding the role and contribution made by the private sector”.

The emergence of the document, just four days before polling day, has been seized on by Labour as evidence of the links between the Conservatives, private healthcare firms and the man entrusted to secure an election victory for the Tories on Thursday.... read more


Tory lord Norman Blackwell in bid to land biggest NHS privatisation deal in history (The Mirror: 2 December 2014)

A wealthy Conservative peer who backed the Coalition’s hated health reforms is now bidding to land the biggest privatisation deal in NHS history.

Tory Norman Blackwell, once a policy chief for Margaret Thatcher and John Major, is a key figure in Interserve PLC’s bid to trouser £1.2billion worth of NHS contracts in Staffordshire.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth fumed: “There are serious questions to answer. A man who worked for Thatcher and Major is bidding to run cancer services.

“What discussions has Lord Blackwell had with Ministers or senior Conservatives about this bid or wider health policy?”

Lord Blackwell earns £143,000-a-year as chairman of Interserve PLC, a UK-based global outsourcing giant.

The firm was named last month as one of five shortlisted bidders for the sale of Staffordshire NHS’s cancer and end-of-life services.

The staggering £1.2billion price tag is the biggest NHS sell-off to date.


Lord Blackwell used his seat in the House of Lords to vote in favour of the Coalition’s Health and Social Care Act 2012, which opened up the NHS to more private firms.

In a Lords debate before the vote, the Interserve chairman spoke in support of more “choice and competition” in the health service.... read more


Companies with links to Tories ‘have won £1.5bn worth of NHS contracts’ (The Guardian: 3 October 2014)

Private companies with financial links to Tory politicians have won NHS contracts worth £1.5bn in the past two years, according to research by the UK’s largest trade union.

Unite claims that 24 Conservative MPs and peers who voted in favour of the government’s health reforms have links to 15 private companies that have won up the contracts since 2012.


Unite’s research includes politicians it says have received donations from organisations linked to private healthcare companies. It also includes others it says have a financial stake in companies that have won contracts since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

McCluskey said around £12bn of former NHS services are now being run by the private sector.

“Key clinical services including cancer care, blood analysis and mental health have been sold off or are up for sale,” said McCluskey. “It is time to scrap the Health and Social Care Act and save our NHS.”... read more


Firm with links to top Tory takes £2.6 million profit from NHS reforms (Daily Mirror: 12 March 2014)

A firm boasting a close advisor to the PM on its board of directors has earnt £2.6 million from the NHS in 10 months by filling vacancies caused by Tory health reforms.Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi – who helped push the controversial GPs’ funding system through the Commons – was appointed non-executive director of recruitment firm SThree in 2008. The firm has been staffing new Clinical Commissioning Groups set up under the Health and Social Care Bill, via an arm of its international business specialising in “Healthcare & Life Sciences sectors” called Real Staffing.

The MP for Stratford on Avon was admitted to David Cameron’s inner circle in October last year when he joined the Number 10 Policy Unit, a close-knit body set up to guide the Prime Minister. An SThree spokesman said: “Nadhim Zahawi is a non-executive director of Real’s parent company SThree and has no executive role in its affairs.

"We strongly refute any suggestion of a link between his political role and the commercial activities of the Group.”

Dr Clive Peedell of the National Health Action Party, said: “It looks like a collosal amount of money going out of the NHS which could be spent on direct patient care instead of going to shareholders.”... read more


Advisor to health secretary has private healthcare links (The Independent: 14 February 2014)

The former Marks & Spencer’s boss appointed by Jeremy Hunt to advise on improving the NHS could “make a fortune” from hospital takeovers by private companies, the country’s biggest union has claimed.

Sir Stuart Rose, who will lead a review of management in the NHS, is also paid to sit on the advisory board of Bridgepoint, an international private equity group, which is the major shareholder of private health firm Care UK.

Care UK is in the running to take over the George Eliot NHS Hospital Trust – one of 14 hospital trusts in Sir Stuart’s review. Rachael Maskell, national officer for health at the Unite union, said Sir Stuart’s appointment represented a “gobsmacking conflict of interest” and called on him to confirm he would not profit personally from Care UK’s bid for the Warwickshire hospital.

A Department of Health spokesperson said that Sir Stuart had “committed to recuse himself from any relevant health discussions at Bridgepoint European Advisory Board meetings”.... read more


MPs see ‘lack of clarity’ in NHS savings spending as reforms pressure health care system (BBC News: 12 February 2014)

There is a lack of clarity over what the money saved in the NHS in England has been spent on, say MPs. The NHS is in the middle of an efficiency drive with savings expected to be reinvested in front-line care and making services more productive. More than £10bn has been saved in the first two years with another £4bn forecast in 2013-14. But the Health Select Committee said there was little evidence it had been used wisely.

The cross-party group of MPs said the plan had been to transform the way services were delivered to make the NHS sustainable in the long-term. But it said, to date, much of the savings had come from "straightforward" measures such as pay freezes and cutting funding to hospitals. It said as a result, the pressures on the NHS and social care system were now greater than they were a few years ago.

Committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said: "We have not seen the transformation of care on the scale which is needed to meet demand and improve care quality. "The NHS budget is static and the social care budget is falling. In these circumstances, the successful integration of high-quality health and care services represents a substantial and growing challenge."... read more


Revealed: Big Pharma's hidden links to NHS policy, with senior MPs saying medical industry uses ‘wealth to influence government’ (The Independent: 11 February 2014)

NHS bosses allowed a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms to write a draft report which could help shape future health policy. NHS England commissioned a group called the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients’ groups, charities and health organisations and produce a report feeding into its future five-year strategy for commissioning £12bn of services. But the SHCA has confirmed to The Independent that it is entirely funded by commercial “members”. Its director, John Murray, is also a lobbyist whose company lists some of the world’s biggest drug and medical device firms as clients.... read more


NHS hires drugmaker-funded lobbyist (The Guardian: 11 February 2014)

A lobbying organisation with links to some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment firms has been asked by NHS bosses to write a report that could influence health policy, it has been reported. NHS England commissioned the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult patients’ groups, healthcare organisations and charities and produce a report that would be considered as part of its strategy for commissioning specialised services in the future. The Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt said the revelation “called into question the integrity and objectivity of NHS England’s handling of 143 specialised services for millions of people”. But NHS England said the report did not involve a conflict of interest, saying it was “not the final strategy and not NHS England policy”.... read more


Labour critical of Tory party donors who are given NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion under health reforms (Daily Mirror: 8 February 2014)

Private health care firms with Tory links have been awarded NHS contracts worth nearly £1.5 billion.

Circle Health landed £1.36 billion worth of health service work after several ­of its investors gifted about £1.5 million to the Conservatives. Care UK has contracts worth another £102.6 million. Its chairman John Nash was made a peer after boosting Tory coffers by £247,250. Labour’s research shows Circle Health’s parent company, Circle Holdings PLC, is owned by a series of hedge funds. Lansdowne Partners, with a 29.2% stake, was founded by Sir Paul Ruddock, who donated £692,592 to the Tories. David Craigen, who gave the party £59,000, is also involved in Lansdowne. Invesco Perpetual owns 28.7% of Circle Holdings. It was set up by Sir Martyn Arbib, who donated £466,330.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, who ­uncovered the figures, fumed: “Nobody gave David Cameron ­permission to sell the NHS to his friends. “It’s shocking the same Tory donors who ­bankrolled the development of their NHS reorganisation policy are now ­profiting from the sell-off of NHS services.”... read more


Privatisation agenda drives Tory policy on NHS, says Andy Burnham (The Independent: 14 January 2014)

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Andy Burnham accused the Coalition of crippling the NHS with competition law and setting it on a path towards charging patients for their care. The Labour frontbencher said that he had “huge reservations” about links between the Conservative party and private health-care companies – arguing that the NHS would be prey to giant American corporations picking off key services for profit if a landmark European Union free trade agreement is reached with the US.

Speaking as negotiations continue for a free trade deal bridging the Atlantic, Mr Burnham said such an agreement could pose fundamental problems. “US health-care companies will be able to say to an NHS clinical commissioning group: ‘We have a legal right to bid for that service.’ Dragging the NHS down that path will destroy it, it will devour what’s precious about the NHS. “All the legal advice I am getting says, while we will just about be able to pull it back at the 2015 election, after that, it will be gone. That’s the choice voters face.”... read more


Health and Social Care Act - How the EU is making NHS privatisation permanent (New Statesmen: 2 December 2013)

The European Parliament is in the process of enabling a historic shift in world economics with countless, far-reaching consequences. A key part of the TTIP is 'harmonisation' between EU and US regulation, especially for regulation in the process of being formulated. In Britain, the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act has been prepared in the same vein – to 'harmonise' the UK with the US health system.This will open the floodgates for private healthcare providers that have made dizzying levels of profits from healthcare in the United States, while lobbying furiously against any attempts by President Obama to provide free care for people living in poverty. With the help of the Conservative government and soon the EU, these companies will soon be let loose, freed to do the same in Britain. "[The Health and Social Care Act] effectively enforces competitive tendering, and thus privatisation and liberalisation i.e. opening to transnational bidders - a shift to US-style profit-prioritised health provision."

The TTIP ensures that the Health and Social Care Act has influence beyond UK borders. It gives the act international legal backing and sets the whole shift to privatisation in stone because once it is made law, it will be irreversible. Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) laws, fundamentals of the agreement, allow corporations legal protection for their profits regardless of patient care performance, with the power to sue any public sector organisation or government that threatens their interest. Once these ISDS tools are in place, lucrative contracts will be underwritten, even where a private provider is failing patients and the CCG wants a contract cancelled. In this case, the provider will be able to sue a CCG for future loss of earnings, thanks to the agreement, causing the loss of vast sums of taxpayer money on legal and administrative costs. Even more worrying is that, once the TTIP is enacted, repealing the Health and Social Care Act in the UK will become almost impossible. As Kaucher explains: "Even if outcomes of the NHS changes are disastrous, ISDS will effectively disallow any attempts by any future UK government to reverse the changes." ... read more


US private hospital group donates £17K to Tories (This is Jersey: 3 September 2013)

The Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is the world’s largest private hospital group, runs several units in London, and holds contracts to run NHS services. It donated £8,500 to the Conservatives in August 2010 and a further £8,500 in September 2011.... read more


Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row (The Guardian: 21 July 2013)

The lobbying firm founded by the Tories' chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived "failings" in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian. The leaked document consists of slides from a presentation which showed that the firm Crosby Textor advised the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance on how to promote themselves amid a highly sensitive debate on the future of the NHS. Labour warned of a "shocking conflict of interest" involving the man charged with running the Tory general.

The slides state that people believe the NHS provides good healthcare, though they believe it has "failings" and is "too bureaucratic with long waiting lists". Crosby Textor advised its clients that 63% of those questioned in a poll conducted for the presentation believed that "going private frees up the NHS waiting list". Crosby Textor, which conducts polls on behalf of clients to help them develop a "powerful strategy focused on the most persuadable 'swing' targets", found overwhelming support for private healthcare providers in a survey carried out for the H5 Alliance.

Lynton Crosby has also been at the centre of debates over the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes: David Cameron has refused to give a direct answer about whether he spoke to a Crosby, the Tobacco Company lobbyist, before deciding to delay the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.... read more


High Court stops Jeremy Hunt from downgrading Lewisham hospital (Pulse: 31 July 2013)

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt acted unlawfully when he downgraded the A&E department at Lewisham Hospital, found the High Court today.

In today’s judgment Justice Silber said that the decision of the Secretary of State must be ‘quashed’ as he had acted outside his powers as Secretary of State.

The Save Lewisham Hospital (SLH) group, led by local GP Dr Louise Irvine,challenged Mr Hunt’s decision to replace Lewisham Hospital A&E with an urgent care centre, which was based on a recommendation by a ‘trust special administrator’ looking into financial problems at the nearby South London Healthcare Trust.

In his judgment Mr Silber referred to a pledge made by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in January 2013 to Dame Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptfort, that hospital closures or reorganisations would not go ahead ‘unless they had support from the GP commissioners’.But Lewisham CCG’s opposition to the downgrading of Lewisham Hospital A&E went unheeded by the health secretary, highlighted concerns from CCG leaders that they will not have the freedom they need to shape local services.... read more


Controversy over new Tory health advisor Nick Seddon who called for NHS cuts and charges for GP visits (London Evening Standard: 9 May 2013)

David Cameron’s No 10 policy shake-up hit new controversy today when it emerged his new health adviser had advocated deep NHS cuts and even charges to see a family doctor. Nick Seddon was hired from the right-leaning think tank Reform to advise the Prime Minister on health and social care as part of the new team led by Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo Johnson.

Before joining Reform, Mr Seddon worked at private health company Circle, which runs the first NHS hospital to be privately managed.

Labour health spokesman Andrew Gwynne said: “Another revealing appointment in Number 10. After the old Etonians, come the NHS privateers.... read more


Blurred boundaries between public service and private interest (The Guardian: 22 October 2012)

What can be done about civil servants who move to the private sector, taking all their insider knowledge with them? This question was prompted by the resignation from the NHS Commissioning Board of Jim Easton to become managing director of the private provider Care UK. He had the task of touring the country telling localities of the need to find £20 billion of savings by working more smartly, including greater outsourcing. Now Mr Seddon's insider knowledge and experience will be put at the disposal of one of the biggest private providers in the country with interests spanning primary care, secondary care, residential care, community care and specialist care. ... read more


Compilation of financial and vested interests of MPs and Lords (Social Investigations: February 2012)

According to the campign group, Social Investigations, this list of MPs and Lords interests represents "the dire state of our democracy. The financial and vested interests of our MPs and Lords in private healthcare."

The investigation has highlighted over 200 parliamentarians that have recent past or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare and all of whom were allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care bill, turning it into an Act.... read more


Tory MP forgot he was paid £50K by Circle (BBC News: 12 February 2012)

Conversative MP and ministerial aide Mark Simmonds has apologised for failing to make clear an interest when speaking in favour of the NHS reforms. The MPs’ register of interest shows he is paid £50,000 a year as a strategic adviser to Circle Healthcare. Mr Simmonds told MPs he wanted to apologise for “inadvertently” failing to declare his interest.


The firm that hijacked the NHS: MoS investigation reveals extraordinary extent of international management consultant's role in Lansley's health reforms (Mail on Sunday: 12 February 2012)

This investigation by The Mail on Sunday reveals the extent of the involvement of McKinsey & Company in the Conservative's reforms of the NHS. Many of the bill's proposals were drawn up by the company. One document revealed by the paper says the firm has used its privileged access to ‘share information’ with its corporate clients – which include the world’s biggest private hospital firms – who are now set to bid for health service work. Other revelations include that McKinsey & Company paid for NHS staff, including those now on the regulator Monitor, to go to lavish events.


Compilation of financial and vested interests of MPs and Lords (Social Investigations: February 2012)

According to the campign group, Social Investigations, this list of MPs and Lords interests represents "the dire state of our democracy. The financial and vested interests of our MPs and Lords in private healthcare."

The investigation has highlighted over 200 parliamentarians that have recent past or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare and all of whom were allowed to vote on the Health and Social Care bill, turning it into an Act.... read more


Government forced to defend McKinsey bill involvement (Health Services Journal: 14 February 2012)

The government has denied that there is a conflict of interest between its health reforms and a management consultant advising on them. Following weekend press reports about McKinsey & Company’s role in the Health and Social Care Bill, Labour’s leader of the Opposition in the Lords Baroness Royall raised questions about the firm ahead of debates on the reforms.... read more


NHS reforms: American consultancy McKinsey in conflict-of-interest row. (The Guardian: 5 November 2011)

A global consultancy firm seeking to profit out of the fallout from the shake-up to the NHS is being paid £250,000 a year by the government for advice on the transition towards health secretary Andrew Lansley's vision of the service. The American firm, McKinsey Inc, with estimated revenues of £4.1 billion a year, has been advising the Department of Health on how best to manage the radical changes since March. McKinsey is also one of a group of private consultants that have united to provide paid-for advice to GPs as they prepare for life after the reforms.... read more


David Cameron's adviser says health reform is a chance to make big profits (The Guardian: 14 May 2011)

Mark Britnell, who was appointed to a "kitchen cabinet" advising the prime minister on reforming the NHS, told a conference of executives from the private sector that future reforms would show "no mercy" to the NHS and offer a "big opportunity" to the for-profit sector.... read more


See also:





Examples of reported conflicts (by company)

GHG Chairman advises Conservatives on public sector savings which may benefit his company


Conservative peer Lord Patten advisor to Bridgepoint Capital, owner of Care UK

Care UK 

Care UK founder, John Nash and wife donate over £200,000 to Conservative Party

Harmoni (Care UK)

NHS fairness tsar urged to quit by doctors over 'conflict of interest'


 - American consultancy McKinsey in conflict-of-interest row

 - The firm that hijacked the NHS


Two Conservative and two Labour peers have shares in Serco


Jeremy Hunt personally intervenes to encourage Virgin takeover of NHS hospitals


Spire employs former Department of Health employee and former Health Secretary


Recent reports:

Private Health Lobbying

How private for-profit healthcare companies have lobbied and influenced government policy, in order to try and gain greater access to the £100bn NHS budget.

MPs and Lords Financial Interests in Healthcare

Analysis of financial interests MPs and Lords may have in private healthcare, these may include business investments, advisory positions and/or monetary donations.


"If conflicts of interest in CCGs are not managed effectively, the consequences could badly undermine the confidence of regulators, providers and, most importantly, patients, in the system."

Clare Gerada  Royal College of GPs March 2013


Lessons from the US?

Cherry-picking patients leaves sour taste

Medical professionalism in a commercialized health care market


Share your examples about the impact of NHS changes

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