Tag Archives: Andrew Lansley

who’s backing privatisation of the NHS? here’s who…

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.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/2011/01/28/tory-party-links-to-private-healthcare-companies-115875-22880670/

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…

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campaign to save the NHS — MPs to vote on the release of hidden report

The following message from the 38 Degrees team was received earlier today. It again encourages people to urgently lobby their MPs to demand the release of a hidden civil service report:

This Wednesday, there’s a crunch NHS vote in Parliament. MPs will vote on whether to demand the publication of a secret government report into the risks facing the NHS. That could be another nail in the coffin of Andrew Lansley’s plans — so let’s pile the pressure on our MPs to vote the right way.

Right now, Andrew Lansley is in a tricky position to defend. He wants MPs and Lords to back his plans for the NHS. But he’s refusing to let them find out what the risks are. If we work together to put our MPs under pressure, there’s a decent chance they’ll refuse to do Lansley’s dirty work for him.

This vote could go either way — send your MP an email asking them to back publishing the secret report — it takes two minutes:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-risk-report

The vote will take place on Wednesday afternoon. That means we’ve got just over 48 hours to convince enough MPs to vote to publish the secret report. The more of us that email our MPs right now, the more likely we are to succeed.

38 Degrees members, doctors, nurses and academics have all been warning for ages that Lansley’s plans put our health service at risk. We know there’s a secret report that could prove that we’re right — so let’s work together to get this report published before it’s too late.

Write to your MP and tell them to vote the right way at the risk report debate on Wednesday:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-risk-report

Thanks for being involved,

David, Johnny, Hannah, Marie, Cian, Becky and the 38 Degrees team

38 degrees first campaigned on the same issue back in November.

Click here to learn more about their initial call for its release and for more details about the secret report itself.

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campaign to save the NHS — urgent call for release of hidden report

The following message from the 38 Degrees team was received earlier today. It outlines the latest twist of events in their campaign to save the NHS and encourages people to urgently lobby their MPs to demand the release of a hidden civil service report:

What’s he trying to hide? For a year health minister Andrew Lansley has been refusing to publish a civil service report on the risks he’s taking with the NHS. Now the Information Commissioner has ordered him to publish it. [1] But he could still keep it hidden for another month – until after more key votes have taken place. [2]

We can’t afford to wait that long. The House of Lords is debating the NHS plans right now. If the report on risks to the NHS is released immediately, it could persuade key members of the House of Lords to stand up to the government.

Let’s raise an uproar in Parliament and force Lansley’s hand. Email your MP now and tell them to demand this secret NHS report is made public immediately:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

Pressure from MPs could force Lansley to publish this report. If enough of us contact them now, we can get it out in the open before it’s too late. MPs won’t want to find themselves back under fire because of Lansley’s cover-up. So let’s all email our MPs now and tell them they have to force Lansley to publish his secret NHS risks report.

The Information Commissioner’s ruling lists Andrew Lansley’s arguments for why he wants this report kept secret. Lansley argued that releasing the report “would have jeopardised the success of the policy”! [3] He’s kept us, MPs, and members of the Lords in the dark deliberately because he’s worried that making these risks public could derail his plans.

Please take two minutes to ask your MP to demand the NHS risks report is made public immediately:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

The NHS belongs to all of us. We all pay for it, and we all rely on it to care for us and our loved ones. We don’t want it put at risk – that’s exactly why we’ve been campaigning together all these months. We have a right to see what this report says.

Let’s work together to get our MPs to force Lansley to publish the secret NHS risk report:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

Thanks for being involved,

Johnny, Becky, Marie, Hannah, Cian, David and the 38 Degrees team

PS: The Evening Standard reports that the “Department of Health twice breached the freedom of information law” to keep this report secret. Why is Lansley going to such lengths to keep it secret from us? Email your MP and demand it’s published immediately:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-secret-report

NOTES
[1] http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/politics/article-24008861-lansley-ordered-to-reveal-secret-health-report.do
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/nov/11/lansley-reveal-nhs-risk?cat=politics&type=article
[2] The Information Commissioner has ordered Lansley to release the report within 35 calendar days. But Lansley could even appeal to drag things out even longer.
[3] You can read the full Information Commissioner judgement here: http://t.co/h3mfnl0N

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privatising the NHS thanks to New Labour

The government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill, ostensibly giving GPs more control over NHS budgets, is about to open the door for a huge private sector takeover. This week, with the government plans still on hold (and supposedly in a “listening” phase), the House of Commons held a debate to challenge the proposed reforms to the NHS:

“During the debate on Monday, shadow health secretary John Healey called for the government to shelve the plans, warning they were “high risk, damaging and unjustified”.

He told MPs: “This is setting up the NHS as a full-blown market and that is the wrong prescription for the NHS.”

And he added such a move would lead to hospitals being ‘driven to the brink’.”

Others, including some within the government, are also questioning the proposals. Nick Clegg says he intends to block the health bill unless it is altered:

[Clegg] said getting the NHS reforms right was “now my number one priority” and called for guarantees there would not be “back-door privatisation”.

He also vowed to be a “moderating” influence on the Conservatives on issues such as the NHS – a marked change in tone from the early days of the coalition government.”

Whether or not Clegg actually keeps to his promise we shall have to wait and see of course. Meanwhile, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have sent a 26-page analysis to the Prime Minister’s office which explains how the changes risk “unravelling and dismantling” the NHS:

RCGP chairman Dr Clare Gerada told the BBC the changes needed went far beyond any modest alterations.

She said: “I would hope that during this pause the government will reflect on what we’re all saying and will rewrite the part of the bill that is actually risking the NHS and risking the NHS being unravelled irreversibly for ever.”   1

Unfortunately, the previous government’s record on NHS reform is very far from exemplary, and so during the debate “Tory MPs attacked what they said was hypocrisy, pointing out that Labour had invited the private sector into the NHS while they were in power.”

According to Colin Leys, co-author of The Plot against the NHS, in this regard at least, they are perfectly correct. These are the opening remarks to a lecture he gave at Goldsmith’s College on 8th April:

“The common view of the changes proposed in the government’s Health and Social Care Bill is that they would be the most radical changes ever made to the NHS. In one way this is correct: the changes do mean replacing a comprehensive, universal system of care with a US-style healthcare market, consisting of providers, all governed by the bottom line. There will be a limited, ‘basic’ package of services for everybody, funded by the state; and better-quality treatments, on payment of a fee or co-payment, for those who can afford to pay.

But in another way the common view is wrong: the changes that were made under New Labour were more radical. A simple consideration makes this clear. If Mr [Andrew] Lansley had taken office last year facing an NHS as it still was in 2000 his project would be unthinkable. In 2000 there were no foundation trusts; no payment by results for hospital treatments; no private health companies already providing NHS acute care and GP services; no independent regulator of the healthcare market (Monitor). Without all these changes, and many others, what Lansley’s bill now proposes would be unthinkable.”2

In fact, New Labour began to tinker with the NHS almost as soon as it came into office, with promises “to overturn the Conservatives’ internal market structure, vowing to replace it with a more collaborative, quality-based approach”.

It wasn’t too long, however, before it began “pushing towards a more market-orientated strategy: a patient choice-led approach to hospital funding, the removal of ideological barriers preventing the use of private health providers to carry out NHS work, and the devolution of management and budgetary control from Whitehall to local NHS organisations”.3

Following its “Agenda for Change” initiative of 2004, the New Labour government then, in 2006, installed a new chief executive, David Nicholson, whose role was to carry out reforms of the NHS “to tackle its debt crisis.”4

In his first interview as chief executive, Nicholson told The Guardian that:

“It is his NHS pedigree that has made him determined to push through reforms even faster than before.”

And Nicholson’s credentials are noteworthy enough to be detailed in the same article under the heading early baggage (the “second stage” of his career, which I’ve highlighted in italic, being of particular interest):

“Nicholson has been with the NHS for 29 years. He joined as a graduate trainee in the same year he joined the Communist party…

Nicholson drifted away from the Communist party and abandoned his membership in 1983. But he has stuck with the NHS in a career that has spanned three phases. For the first 10 years he worked in mental health, mainly in Yorkshire…

For the next nine years, Nicholson moved into the acute hospital sector. He was chief executive of Doncaster Royal Infirmary, one of the first wave of NHS trusts to break free from Whitehall control under Margaret Thatcher’s policy of NHS reform. That “liberating” experience taught him the benefits of independence and the need to mobilise support for reform among clinical staff. “Once you engage them and gain their trust, there is nothing stopping you,” he says.

The third stage of his career, which has led him to the top of the NHS tree, was in regional and strategic health authority management. It was there, he says, that he learned how to deliver change on a grand scale by getting all the bits of the system pointing in the same direction.”5

In a speech delivered behind closed doors back in 2009, it was Nicholson who told health service finance directors that a new programme of reforms was needed to deliver between £15 billion and £20 billion [which equated to 6% of the total budget] in ‘efficiency savings’ over three years from 2011 to 2014. In response, Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association council, warned that if efficiency savings went ahead on such a scale “there is a real danger that patient services could be threatened”.

We also learn from the same article in The Telegraph that previous reforms, such as Agenda for Change, had in any case made almost “no difference” to efficiency:

“The PAC [all-party Public Accounts Committee] report on Agenda for Change, to be published on Thursday, will show that one such drive – called Agenda for Change – has made almost no difference to the amount the NHS pays out in salaries every year.

The reforms to NHS pay structures were introduced following an agreement in 2002 between trade unions and Alan Milburn, the then-health secretary, who called the package “a good deal for Britain’s NHS”.

The changes, described as “the biggest job evaluation and implementation scheme on the planet”, were introduced between 2004 and 2006, with new salary bands and job descriptions to standardise the pay and conditions of over one million health service employees.

The Department for Health predicted at the time that the new pay system would save taxpayers at least £1.3 billion over five years, as well as ensuring a significant increase in staff productivity.

However, MPs were told by the National Audit Office (NAO), the Whitehall spending watchdog, that ‘for 2007/08 the £28 billion NHS pay bill is broadly similar to what it might have been if the programme had not been implemented’.” 6

What had started with Thatcherism, and then continued under Blair and Brown, has now reached a critical phase under Cameron. To understand how this relentless drive towards privatisation on the basis of “efficiency savings” has been maintained by successive governments, I recommend an excellent short documentary put together by Tamasin Cave and David Miller at spinwatch.org.

As Colin Leys said in his lecture at Goldsmith’s College:

When you have seen [the video] you understand a lot more about Andrew Lansley and where his ideas are coming from.”

Leys concluded his lecture as follows:

But just in case you are not convinced of the design behind this, and don’t think it’s fair to call it a plot, let me add just one item. In January there was a discussion on Radio 4 between Matthew Taylor, who was once Blair’s chief of staff, and Eamonn Butler, the Director of the Adam Smith Institute, where Tim Evans also works – same Tim Evans who negotiated the concordat with Milburn and looked forward to the NHS becoming just a kitemark.7  They were asked if they thought the NHS was really going to be ‘a mere franchise’. Butler replied, quite casually, ‘It’s been 20 years in the planning. I think they’ll do it.”

Click here to read a full transcript of the lecture.

The Plot Against the NHS by Colin Leys & Stewart Player is published by Merlin Press Ltd for £10. Click here to go to Merlin Press website.

1 “Government fights off Labour challenge to NHS plans” from BBC News on May 9th 2011. Click here to read the full article.

2 From a lecture given by Colin Leys at Goldsmith’s College on April 8th 2011 based on a book also entitled “The Plot against the NHS”, by Colin Leys and Stewart Player, published on April 14th. Click here to read a full transcript.

3 “NHS reform: the issue explained – Labour has promised to create an NHS for the 21st century, investing record sums to try to achieve its vision of a dynamic publicly-funded, consumer-driven health service.” Patrick Butler reports for The Guardian, Wednesday 7th May 2003. Click here to read the full article.

4

“The government today appointed a new head of the NHS whose first job will be to tackle its debt crisis.

David Nicholson, currently chief executive of NHS London, where some of the current financial problems are most acute, replaces Sir Nigel Crisp, whose sudden departure in March provoked a fierce political row.

Announcing the appointment, the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, said: ‘David’s challenge is to ensure that the NHS continues to achieve better results for patients, while restoring financial balance.’”

Taken from “New NHS chief appointed” by Matt Weaver, published in The Guardian on Thursday 27th July 2006. Click here to read the full article.

5 From an article entitled “Right on with reform: In his first interview as the new NHS chief executive, David Nicholson says the health service should brace itself for more upheaval. ‘Tough decisions’ on failing hospitals are high on the agenda, he tells John Carvel, from The Guardian, Wednesday 13th September 2006. Click here to read the full article.

6 From an article entitled “NHS chief tells trusts to make £20bn savings: The head of the NHS has told senior managers to plan for spending cuts even more drastic than those already thought to be on the way.” by James Ball and Patrick Sawer, published in The Telegraph on June 13th 2009. Click here to read the full article.

7

“The story begins for me in July 2000. Alan Milburn was the Secretary of State for Health and was in the middle of negotiating a so-called concordat with the Independent Healthcare Association. The concordat said that from now on the NHS would take advantage of private sector healthcare providers on a regular basis, not just exceptionally, as for example in the annual winter beds crisis. The Independent Healthcare Association’s chief negotiator was Tim Evans. I interviewed Tim Evans at the time. He told me that his vision was that the NHS would be just ‘a kitemark attached to the institutions and activities of a system of purely private providers’.

Click here to read a full transcript of the lecture.

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