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17 February 2021

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Boot private companies out of our NHS

NHS privatisation cartoon, by Alan Hardman

NHS privatisation cartoon, by Alan Hardman   (Click to enlarge)

Simon Carter, east London Socialist Party

Despite the recently leaked government draft white paper suggesting reversing "controversial privatisation policies" introduced in 2012, private healthcare operators continue to gorge on the NHS.

In January, the US 'for profit' healthcare company Centene Corporation, through its UK subsidiary Operose Healthcare, acquired AT Medics London contracts. This means that Operose now runs 69 GP surgeries in total, the largest GP surgery network in the UK.

Absorbed into Operose was The Patient Group (TPG), which has a history as a failing service provider. In June 2012, TPG walked away from a contract to run the Brandon Street surgery in Leicester. It had failed to recruit permanent GPs for the surgery and a succession of locums was used.

In April 2012, TPG shut its Camden Road surgery in London, bought from United Health. Patients were given very little notice of the decision. Both United Health and TPG were subsequently accused of running down the surgery and there was considerable use of locums.

The closure sparked a public inquiry by Camden Council. The inquiry was, however, abandoned when both United Health and TPG refused to attend. In January 2016, when TPG ended its contract for five surgeries in Brighton and Hove following a funding dispute, some 11,400 patients had to be found alternative GP practices.

In January 2020, Centene increase its stake in Circle Healthcare to 40%. Circle is notorious for walking away from its contract acquired in 2011 to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire - the first privately run NHS hospital in England - when it found it wasn't making the profit expected.

Private healthcare companies cherry-pick profitable areas of the NHS. But when the honeypot runs out so do these parasites, leaving the NHS to clear up the costly mess.

The use of 'any willing provider' to run NHS services was codified into the Con-Dem government's 2012 Health and Social Care Act. This outsourcing was preceded by the Blair/Brown governments' trialling of Independent Sector Treatment Centres and GP commissioning.

Booting private companies out of the NHS is long overdue. These contracts, along with those of the rip-off Private Finance Initiative schemes, should be made null and void and services brought back in-house. The government should fully fund the NHS, with the public healthcare organisation run democratically involving trade unions representing the workforce and representatives of user groups.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 17 February 2021:


Tory consultation on home-use abortion pills

Tory cladding money will not make us safe

Sham inquiry into 'progressive extremism' will not stop movements against capitalism

Cumbria mine: How can we fight for jobs and stop climate change?

Cryptocurrency bubble: Insanity of capitalism

News in brief

NSSN meeting

Online workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses


SNP's independence referendum 2 'roadmap'


NHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

Boot private companies out of our NHS

Workplace safety

Covid workplace safety

Derby Toyota plant Covid crisis

Workplace News

Hackney teaching assistants strike against cruel and unnecessary job cuts

PCS: Reject the HMRC pay deal

Manchester Go North West bus drivers in all-out strike over fire and rehire dispute

London bus drivers set to strike over pay and conditions

Scaffolders' strike continues

Socialist Students

Strike back for free education

Socialist Students conference - Sunday 28 February


Socialist Party Black and Asian caucus

Remembering Mohamud Hassan - continuing the fight against police brutality

How you can amplify the Socialist's voice - Help us build subscriptions to the Socialist

Swarming the London Mayor's question time

Southern new members meeting - a vivid illustration of the appetite for socialist ideas

Doing all we can to fund the anti-cuts stand at the ballot box

Readers' Opinion

Film Review: Dear Comrades!

The Socialist Inbox


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Related links:


triangleWomen's health matters

trianglePublic sector workers respond to the budget

triangleSocial care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run

triangleTory consultation on home-use abortion pills

triangleNHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies


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Article dated 17 February 2021

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