News / 26 September, 2009

‘Private health care will be bad for patients’

Plans for private companies to run Hackney health services condemned

Keep our NHS public supporters, Hackney

Keep our NHS public supporters, Hackney

Patients are up in arms at plans to privatise a key part of Hackney’s health services.

Contracts to run two health centres have been put out to tender amid protests from patients and campaigners that they were not consulted over potential private sector bids.

A petition signed by 800 people – some patients of the practices in question – was presented to City and Hackney Primary Care Trust (PCT) at its 11 September board meeting.

The petition, drafted by campaigning group Hackney Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), called for an end to the possible ‘sell-offs’ of health services, arguing that private companies would put the interests of shareholders ahead of patients.

The campaigners say the privatisation of services offered in the borough will lead to a lower quality of care.

They argue that private healthcare firms employ doctors on short-term contracts, damaging the patient – doctor relationship.
The contracts to run a new service at the Oldhill practice in Stamford Hill and a similar one at a yet-to-be-confirmed site in south eastern Hackney have been put out to tender in response to a government initiative.

At the packed PCT board meeting, which was held in public, local solicitor and KONP campaigner Wendy Pettifer said, “People don’t know the private tendering process is happening. The majority of residents would be against the private sector running health centres.”

Steve Gilvin, the PCT’s director of primary care consulting, replied that the PCT had carried out polling of patients – but he added that the type of provider was “not an issue for consultation”.

Sharon Patrick, the PCT’s non-executive director, said she had been contacted by Hackney LINk – a group that represents health service users – who told her it had not been informed the practices were up for grabs to private companies.

Camden KONP was left outraged recently after the contract to run a health centre in that borough was awarded to corporate giant CARE UK before the public consultation had ended. The group is now taking legal action.

One campaigner, Bronwen Handyside, told the Citizen, “We know there are 40 bids in and we know that CARE UK has put up bids all over the country for these kinds of services.”

PCT chief executive Jacqui Harvey said the Trust was obliged to allow companies to tender for the contracts. She said, “What matters to us most is having GPs deliver the best possible care to our residents.”

/ 26 September, 2009
  • This is an excerpt for the Patients Association Weekly Newsletter 23/10/09

    6. NHS sends £1.5 million for staff to have private treatment

    Information revealed under the Freedom of Information Act has shown that 3,300 members of NHS staff, including Doctors and Nurses, have received private medical treatment over the last three years.

    The private treatment, estimated to have cost £1.5 million between April 2006 and April 2009, is said to have been used so that NHS staff could avoid waiting lists.

    The practice was defended by a Department of Health spokesperson who said: “If trusts want to get their staff back to work more quickly they can’t jump NHS waiting lists, so going private is an option.”

    The private care included treatments for conditions including psychiatric care, counselling, physiotherapy and osteopathy.

    Norman Lamb, Health Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures said: “It simply isn’t fair to have one service for staff and another for everyone else. If the NHS has to circumvent their own waiting lists the system isn’t working well enough. It’s an admission by the NHS that their own system isn’t able to respond to the mass of people desperate to get back to work.”

    PA Director Katherine Murphy said : “I am really surprised. If the NHS’s own staff are not using its service then it is sending out mixed messages to patients who, often, do not have the choice.”

    See also for how the NHS really works!


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