March 30, 2015 by Protect Our NHS
See Stephen Williams’ letter here
Dear Mr Williams
You say that the Liberal Democrats remain fully committed to the core principles of the NHS and to ensuring that it remains free at the point of use.
But you voted for the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that abandoned core principles and removed the democratic and legal basis for our NHS and the Government’s duty to provide comprehensive health services. You then voted for secondary legislation (‘section 75 regulations’) which forced Clinical Commissioning Groups to use competition regardless of considerations of public wishes and with scant regard to quality, compared to price.
What your coalition government has put in place is the mechanism for the wholesale privatisation of the planning, organisation, supply, finance and distribution of our health care.
Without a single one of us having had any say in this.
Politicians responsible for this must live with their consciences, as it’s one of the greatest failures of democracy in my lifetime. And bearing in mind the links between so many parliamentarians and private health companies, it’s a betrayal of corrupt proportions.
Politicians like you claim the NHS is not being privatised because it is still free at the point of use. But the two are not connected. The founding principles of the NHS which include it being universal and comprehensive have gone. The NHS logo appears on all sorts of private company buildings and notepaper which is one reason patients haven’t noticed the change yet. Just leaving ‘free at the point of use’ under an NHS kitemark doesn’t constitute a national health service.
But let me deal with privatisation. Last year, a majority of new contracts to provide NHS services went to private companies. Most of these private companies hide behind the NHS logo but siphon off a profit. Collectively, such providers received more than £10bn from the public coffers in 2013. And according to the Financial Times, over £6bn of NHS work is currently being advertised to the private sector, a 14% increase on a year earlier.
Just two weeks ago 11 companies including Care UK, Circle Health and Ramsay Health became beneficiaries of the biggest NHS privatisation deal in the history of the NHS. £780m worth of NHS business was handed over to them. Unbelievably, these companies include Vanguard Healthcare which is facing legal action over a series of botched eye operations carried out last year at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset.
But there’s more, much more. Given your stance on tax avoidance you are no doubt dismayed by the activities of these companies who make use of tax havens to maximise their profits from providing NHS services.
Bio Product Laboratories the UK blood plasma supplier sold in 2013 to US private equity firm Bain Capital.
Care UK (again) who own Harmoni (the 111 out-of-hours service provider) and Emerson’s Green, and owned in turn by private equity company Bridgepoint.
Circle Health (again) who until it pulled out of its contract after being slammed by the Care Quality Commission, ran Hinchinbrook Hospital.
General Healthcare Group the largest provider of private healthcare facilities in the UK, with over 60 hospitals.
The Hospital Corporation of America the world’s largest private healthcare company, also co-owned by Bain Capital.
Ramsay Health (again) the giant Australian company with the greatest number of NHS service contracts.
Spire Healthcare the UK’s second largest private healthcare company, with a hospital in Bristol.
UnitedHealth now rebranded as Optum – USA’s biggest health insurer.
Virgin Care handed contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to run more than 230 NHS and social care services.
They are all tax avoiders, private companies leeching off our NHS, queuing up to line their pockets and counting out their money in tax havens. This is the true picture of NHS privatisation and I for one want nothing to do with it or the politicians who support it. And, incidentally, TTIP will benefit such companies who have links with US healthcare.
Finally, you say you will ensure that the NHS remains free at the point of use. I will share a personal anecdote with you.
Following a recent accident, I broke a tooth. I had it crowned this week “on the NHS”. It cost £300. Free at the point of use?
Two years ago my GP, following a cumbersome bureaucratic application process, was successful in getting ‘Exceptional Funding’ for a certain procedure I needed. ‘Exceptional Funding’ lists the staggering amount of procedures now not routinely funded on the NHS. But that’s ok, the rest are ‘free at the point of use’
My brother has decided he can’t wait the 12 months for similar treatment, even with ‘exceptional funding’, as the side affects are seriously debilitating. He’s decided to use his savings to pay for this surgery. He goes into hospital next week. The cost? £2000. ‘Free at the point of use’?
I say to people – when you meet a politician who says the NHS is not being privatised because it is still ‘free at the point of use’, please, please, do not be fooled into the belief that ‘free at the point of use’ means the same as it did yesterday! Or that it will mean the same tomorrow
When a local clinic removes cataract treatment from its list of services… it’s ok, because the NHS is still ‘free at the point of use’
Your Clinical Commissioning Group lists a particular treatment as no longer available for funding, no matter – for the rest, the NHS is still ‘free at the point of use’
An A&E closes down, but don’t worry, the NHS is still ‘free at the point of use’
Someone dies because one ambulance station is doing the work of two, and the nearest Emergency Operation Room has moved 10 miles away… then just look away!
‘The NHS is still free at the point of use’.
I’m sorry constituents like me won’t be able to challenge you at the husting in person.