September 23, 2013 by Protect Our NHS
Weston General Hospital Campaign
For Immediate Release
Lay Chair of North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group Should Resign over Conflicts of Interest
On BBC West’s Sunday Politics programme this weekend (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03b42nd/Sunday_Politics_West_22_09_2013/) Health Correspondent Matthew Hill reported on the damaging conflicts of interest facing two board members of Weston Area Health Authority, John Underwood and Kathy Headdon. Mrs Headdon, who is also the Chair of the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group works as a consultant for Capita Symonds. Capita Group is one of the private companies which has expressed an interest in bidding to take over the running of Weston General Hospital.
On Sunday’s BBC programme, Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol North West, described the conflict of interest for Mrs Headdon as “a huge problem”. Mrs Headdon has a key role in the future of Weston General as Chair of the Stakeholder and Quality Assurance Group at Weston Area Health Trust which is supposed to provide an independent perspective to the project board on the bids, both private and NHS, to take over the running of our hospital.
Weston General Hospital Campaign spokesman, Steve Timmins, said:
We are calling on Mrs Headdon to do the proper thing here and stand down from her posts as it is quite clear that she cannot be independent in her role in stakeholder and quality assurance in the tender process for Weston General Hospital if she is a consultant with one of the potential bidders. Neither can she easily claim to be objective in one of her CCG roles as representative for Patient and Public Engagement.
Malcolm Wing, a national advisor on procurement to UNISON, said:
It would clearly undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the procurement process at Weston General Hospital if Kathy Headdon remains as chair of the Board overseeing the tender process. In fact she should step down from the Board completely. Her continued presence creates a risk that her professional judgement or actions will be influenced by her employment by Capita. Any perception that she is not completely independent and impartial will be damaging to the credibility of the decision finally made.
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Timmins: 07841 238588
Notes to editors:
The Weston General Hospital Campaign Group
The Weston General Hospital Campaign Group calls for an existing NHS Trust to take over the running of our hospital and for the continuation of a full, 24 hour, A&E service at Weston General. The Campaign believes that only an NHS organisation would have the local community as its first priority, and put patients before profits.
Capita is a major company which does an extensive range of work in most areas of the public sector, and for many private companies. Its income from the public and private sectors is roughly equal. Its half-year results for the six months to 30 June 2013 show a half-year revenue of £1.8 billion and half-year profits before tax of £205 million. In the same six-month period, it secured new contracts worth £2.0 billion.
Capita Symonds is the property and construction management subsidiary of Capita.
There is a health division, Capita Health and Wellbeing, which has clinics which provide occupational health services to employers.
At present Capita does not appear to run clinical treatment or care centres, but in early August 2013 Capita and Circle announced that they are forming a partnership to bid for a range of NHS contracts including those for hospitals, adult and social care and administrative systems. (Financial Times, 1 August 2013)
The company is one of the hundred largest listed on the London Stock Exchange. By far the biggest shareholder, with 22.4% of the shares, is Invesco Asset Management Limited, a fund and asset management company.
Capita Symonds worked for North Bristol Trust on the accommodation for its children’s service.
A flavour of those Capita activities which have generated controversy can be found in its Wikipedia entry from which the following examples are taken.
In March 2006 Executive Chairman Rod Aldridge resigned in the aftermath of claims that contracts awarded to the Group were influenced by his loan of £1 million to the Labour Party. Aldridge resigned saying that he denied the claims, but to avoid any lingering doubts about it, he was leaving the company. Aldridge is a lifelong Labour supporter, and had overseen the company’s growth from a small company in 1987 to a FTSE 100 member in 2006.
Capita manages the Criminal Records Bureau for the Home Office. In 2002, when mandatory CRB-vetting of all workers with children was brought in, a large number of teachers were temporarily unable to work after Capita’s systems had difficulty with the workload and were subsequently overwhelmed, meaning that the start of the academic year was delayed in some places.
In 2006 Capita Financial Administrators (CFA) was fined £300,000 by the Financial Services Authority for having poor anti-fraud controls.