Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 48 Number 17, June 9, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

70th Anniversary of the NHS

Paying the Rich through the NHS

An exhibition is currently touring called How Come We Didn't Know? It is of images taken and captioned by photographer Marion Macalpine. It demonstrates how private interests are taking over and benefiting from the neo-liberal programme of the government to pay the rich through the health service. From June 4-6 it was being shown at the Winns Gallery in East London, sponsored by Waltham Forest Save Our NHS.

The exhibition highlights how corporate tentacles reach into every corner of the NHS, with £3.1bn of health services being privatised in 2016-17. It points out that the present reorganisation into Integrated Care Systems and Accountable Care Organisations involve outsourcing NHS services, a reorganisation which prompts the title of the exhibition since the government continues to deny the reality of the direction it is taking the NHS. The exhibition explores the diverse forms that privatisation takes, including PFI contracts; private health companies masquerading as NHS including many GP clinics and diagnostic centres; private hospitals which cherry-pick 'low risk' patients; lucrative contracts for highly specialist treatment; healthcare corporations with a history of fraud or tax avoidance; scandalously poor care practice that is no barrier to winning new contracts; private corporations driving government policy and involved in negotiations such as the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The exhibition highlights critical links between politicians at all levels and private healthcare corporations.

Extracts from the exhibition panels:

"Virgin Care have won NHS contracts valued at £2.5 billion since 2010, including over £1 billion in the year to December 2017... In 2016 Virgin sued the NHS when it failed to win an £82 million 3-year contract for children's community care in Surrey The case was settled in 2017 with secret payments to Virgin estimated at over £2 million. In 2017, Virgin Care ran over 400 NHS services..."

"St Martin's Hospital [Bath] houses the headquarters of Bath Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and, up to 2016, Sirona Care, a social enterprise which took over most of Bath Social Services in 2011. In November 2016, in spite of strong local opposition, Virgin Care was chosen over a consortium led by Sirona for a £700 million contract for social services and most non-hospital health services. This is the first time core adult social work services will be run for profit."

"Ramsay [Health] is the third biggest supplier to the NHS receiving £30 million in revenue in 2010/2011. In 2007, Ramsay Health agreed a 10-year deal with Bromley Hospitals Trust to build a £4.2m 25-bed unit. Just two years into the contract, Ramsay closed the unit saying it was no longer commercially viable, leaving South London Hospitals Trust with overwhelming debts which in turn contributed to proposals to close the nearby successful Lewisham Hospital."

"Serco has many contracts across Government. It is currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over concerns of overcharging millions for electronic tagging by prisoners who were either in prison or dead."

"Spire is a large provider of healthcare to NHS patients. 27% of its income in 2012-13 came from the NHS. Spire Healthcare channels £65 million a year through Luxembourg, almost cancelling out its taxable UK earnings."

"PFI is a scheme through which private corporations build hospitals and then rent them to NHS Trusts over a long period and at such a rent that the NHS ends up paying many times the capital cost of the hospital. PFI imposes much higher debts upon the taxpayer than the actual value of the buildings. These costs have literally bankrupted some trusts. New buildings at the Royal London Hospital cost £1.1bn to build, but the eventual cost through PFI will be £7.1 billion, of which £6.1bn is still to pay with average annual payments of £199m at today's prices until 2049."

"There are many questionable links between the lobbying industry, Big Pharma and NHS England. For instance, the Government has commissioned the Specialist Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients' groups, charities and health organisations to seek their views on plans for a range of NHS services with a total value of £12bn. The SHCA is funded entirely by 13 drug companies."

"Global consultancies have taken a greatly increased role in NHS decision-making at every level. By March 2017, the government had spent £17.6 million on consultants hired to draw up plans for £22 billion NHS cuts. Firms including KPMG, McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) made millions of pounds from plans that will lead to the closure or downgrading of NHS hospitals."

"In early 2015, NHS England approved a list of organisations to provide commissioning support, including Capita, KPMG and United Health. These international corporates are now set to determine the rules and run the competitions to decide who gets the contracts for our healthcare in the future."

"Since 2016 the NHS in England has been completely reorganised into 44 new Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. There was no public debate, no new legislation, no parliamentary scrutiny, no consultation with either NHS professional bodies or local communities... just an unannounced Government-led total restructure of the NHS … these Partnerships are required to cut the NHS budget by around a fifth (22 billion) by 2020 compared with 2015 costs.... At the same time, the newly restructured services will be ripe for privatisation. New Integrated Care Organisations, which bring together several existing services, will be very attractive to giant US healthcare corporations, risking, ultimately, wholesale sell-off of the NHS."

"Nottinghamshire STP used NHS England's approved list to appoint Capita .. to run a £2.7 million tender. The contract is to develop an ICS which will 'integrate' health and social care services across the STP. Capita used its own approved list to select Centene UK for this work. Centene UK is a subsidiary of Centene, a major US healthcare insurer and provider."

"In Bristol, Care UK have invited GPs to encourage patients to pay privately for operations, bypassing NHS waiting lists for operations like hip and knee joint replacements and cataract operations."

These examples demonstrate how the introduction of the market in health care with the purchaser-provider split is developing into a fully-blown scheme to pay the rich through the health service, and public accountability has been destroyed. This points the way forward for it to be established on a new basis with the people and the health workers and professionals as the decision-makers, establishing this as the new public authority, on the basis that health care is a right.

The photographic exhibition is available for hire by KONP and other NHS campaign groups. It is also available on-line and in a laminated version. If you are interested in using the exhibition to support your local campaign, contact Marion Macalpine on



Saturday 23rd June to Saturday 14th July 2018, Mon to Sat, 10.30am to 4pm, free of charge. St. Thomas Church, The Haymarket (next to the Civic centre), Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7PF


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