As the Liberal Democrats are denied a conference vote on the NHS reform bill, its unpopular passage through parliament says much about a wider lack of democracy in this country. Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are simply stuffed to the rafters with vested interests, and when it comes to the healthcare debate, such parasitism abounds in all the major parties, as this excellent compilation of conflicts of interest reveals – Lords and Ladies first – and please note that I’m only providing a tiny sample (to read the complete list click here) :
Lord Ashcroft [obviously] Conservative benches and funder – Until 2010, held investments in two private healthcare groups.
Lord Boswell [no relation!] — Conservative – Has shares in Reckitt Benckiser which produces drugs for the NHS amongst other health institutions. NHS is currently suing Reckitt Benckiser for £90 million following an investigation that ruled the company had abused its dominant position in the heartburn market. The company has just paid a fine for £10.2 million in 2010 following a ruling by the Office of Fair Trading which found them guilty of illegal anti-compative behaviour relating to their heartburn product Gaviscon. Lord Boswell’s shares have in brackets household part of the company, but in the end it is the same company. He also has shares in GlaxoSmithKline PLC pharmaceuticals.
Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone: Conservative – The former Conservative Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley is a Director of BUPA, the health insurance, private hospital and care group.
Quotes on bill:‘I give this Bill an unequivocal and extraordinarily warm welcome.’
‘It is romantic poppycock to think that the Secretary of State should be personally involved…’
Baroness Eccles: Conservative — Has shares in GlaxoSmithKline (Healthcare) — GlaxoSmith Kline. GSK is the UK’s leading supplier of COPD medicines.
Quotes on bill:‘My Lords, I am delighted to support this bill.’ ‘I hope that this bill will initiate a sea change in the way that we approach the nation’s health…’
Lord Lee – Liberal Democrats – Shares in United Drug plc (Pharmaceuticals) – Provide home-based pharmacy care for patients covered by the NHS as a joint venture from 2009 with Medco Health Solutions.
Lord Filkin: Labour – Adviser to outsourcing giant Serco, heavily involved in NHS services.
Lord Leitch: — Labour Bupa chairman.
Baroness Morgan of Huyton: Labour – Ex-director of failed care home firm Southern Cross.
And of our many honourable members of the House of Commons:
Andrew Lansley [obviously] — Conservative – John Nash, the chairman of Care UK, gave £21,000 to fund Andrew Lansley’s personal office in November 2009. In a recent interview, a senior director of the firm said that 96 per cent of Care UK’s business, which amounted to more than £400 million last year, came from the NHS. – Hedge fund boss John Nash is one of the major Conservative donors with close ties to the healthcare industry.
Andrew Lansley’s wife, Sally Low, is founder and managing director of Low Associates (“We make the link between the public and private sectors”). A Daily Telegraph report in February records that the Low Associates website lists pharmaceuticals companies SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and P&G among its clients. It also records Ms Low’s assertion that the company “does not work with any client who has interests in the health sector”. The website currently contains no reference to the drug firms listed above. http://www.channel4.com/news/andrew-lansleys-nhs-plans-still-in-good-health
Simon Burns: [how very unsurprising!] Conservative – Chelmsford MP – attended an oncology conference paid for by Aventis Pharma – a five-day trip to the US funded by a leading drug firm.
Liam Fox [another of the usual suspects] – Former Conservative MP – became shadow health secretary in 1999 – employs Adam Werrity as a paid intern in 2004 – by this time Adam Werrity becomes a director of health consultancy firm ‘UK Health Ltd’ (now dissolved), while Liam Fox was shadow health secretary of which he and Liam Fox were shareholders. Werrity owned 11.5% of UK Health Group and Fox owned 2.3%. In 2005 a researcher based in Mr Fox’s office worked ‘exclusively’ for the now closed Atlantic Bridge ‘charity’, which Liam Fox was the founding member; Mr Werrity became director, and which had links to radical right-wing neocons in the U.S. The researcher received funding from Pfizer Inc. He claimed ‘she has no function in any health role.’ The researcher was Gabby Bertin, who is now David Cameron’s press secretary.
The full list just goes on and on and on…