Just how corrupt do they have to be?

I suppose that I have been very fortunate to spend my life in a job where I knew who I was meant to be looking after. As a doctor I am bound by the General Medical Council’s good practice guidelines which make it clear that as a doctor “you must make the patient your first concern”. So I have known, quite clearly and unambiguously that my job is to look after my patients. And, it is not just doctors. I have known physiotherapists, and nurses, medical receptionists and telephonists who have all shared the same public service ethos. Working in the NHS was like that. We were there to serve the patients.

Perhaps that is why people tend to trust their doctors. I was asked my advice on all sorts of things, from what sort of car to buy or whether to invest in a private pension. I may or may not have had any useful advice, but the patients knew that I was not going to get a back-hander from the car manufacturer or a commission from the pension company.

Politicians, it seems are different. And the stink of corruption is spreading from politics through the Department of Health and into the whole management of the NHS. There is a real risk that faith in the NHS itself will be destroyed by the changes that Andrew Lansley and David Cameron are trying to force on a reluctant public in the face of almost universal opposition from healthcare professions.

I have written before about the tendency of Labour Secretaries of State for Health to take lucrative consultancies with private healthcare companies and consultancies. I have also commented on the fact that Tony Blair’s special adviser on the NHS is now European president of United Health. United Health is just one of several US companies who have be found guilty of defrauding the US tax-payer and patients, and who are taking on work for the NHS in Britain.

The tentacles of private companies and the way that they have taken profits out of the NHS is well documented by Professor Allyson Pollock in her book NHS PLC. Those private organisations always take much needed money out of the NHS and often leave on the brink of bankruptcy the very NHS facilities they were meant to be serving.

 

How corrupt are the people telling us how to organise the NHS?

Read this blog and it will turn your stomach. MPs and Peers who benefited financially from of Healthcare related businesses include:

Andrew Lansley MP and his wife Sally Low, Nick de Bois MP, who defended Lansley’s NHS reforms in a Radio 5 live programme that I was taking part in, Patricia Hewitt MP, Alan Milburn MP, David Heathcoat-Amory MP, Mark Simmonds MP, Stephen O’Brien MP, Rob Wilson MP, Simon Burns MP, Lord Carter and Lord McColl.

The blog reports donations to the Conservative Party centrally of over £600,000 from healthcare related businesses. One of the donors was rewarded by David Cameron with a peerage. So at least two peers head up companies that will be major beneficiaries of the Cameron and Lansley plan to give away large chunks of the NHS to private companies.

 

The corruption has spread to the civil service.

Two recent revelations have shown that the ‘snouts in the trough’ mentality is not confined to MPs and Peers.

Andrew Lansley had to apologise when it emerged that 25 senior staff in the Department of Health were dodging their tax and NI obligations by having their salaries paid through private companies.

And the Mail on Sunday discovered that the management consultancy McKinsey were wining and dining senior Department of Health staff, while at the same time helping to draw up the legislation that will bring great benefits to their own company and others in the field.

 

How corrupt would you like the NHS to become?

With this background, it can surely be no surprise that Lansley’s so-called NHS reforms pave the way for £millions to pass from the NHS to private companies. Despite government attempts to assure us that conflict of interest will be prevented, it will be impossible to ensure that all the contracts taken up by every Commissioning Group will avoid all those companies that have played a part in setting up the whole shady deal. There are companies, and there will be individuals who have interests both in ‘helping’ the commissioning process and in providing healthcare or selling services to healthcare providers. And with all these contracts sucking the life-blood out of the NHS, GPs will come under more and more pressure to delay, defer and deny patients the treatment that they need in order to pay for the financial deficits.

If you would like this corruption to become a regular part of the way the NHS works you have only to sit on your hands while the Health Bill becomes law.

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11 Responses to Just how corrupt do they have to be?

    • Charles West says:

      Thanks Ian.
      I have seen some of Eoin Clarke’s blog entries, but not that one. I have not had an opportunity to check what he says, but in the interests of transparency and balance I am putting up the link you suggest unless, or until someone suggests that the figures are wrong.
      I am, of course aware of the mis-match between Liberal Democrat grass roots views on the NHS reforms, and the utterances of some of our ministers on this issue. Some of this can be explained by the question of cabinet responsibility, but in my view that is not good enough.
      You will know, I imagine that we have over 1,000 signatures from Lib Dem members to the Party leadership asking them to withdraw support for the awful Lansley proposals. We have a few other irons in the fire too.
      Thank you for your comment.

      • ianrobo says:

        Charles I think across the political divide we all have serious questions on influence of money and power, none of us are clean and yet we can not find a way round it. None of us really want the state paying for parties and members contributions would never be enough.

        Also across the divide I do believe no one wants to be honest the competition aspects of this bill. I think there will be a compromise and as Williams suggested the third part will be dropped.

        However such a bill should never have made it past your leadership or an agreement that LD MP’s have a free will option because some would like it. Now you are tied to it when there was never a need as the local commissioning aspect has some support across all. of us. This aspect of it could have been brought it by now if indeed any bill was needed

      • Charles West says:

        I actually think tyhat we do need to pay for political parties through the public purse. We can then ban donations over and above a very small figure. I like the French system. As I understand it donations to political parties are illegal. Each party gets funding from the state in proposrtion to the number of votes that they won last time around.
        C.

      • ianrobo says:

        I would add as well that I never understood how handing public services with public money to be used as profits makes things more efficient.

        are the trains ? Without public money ….

    • ianrobo says:

      the problem will be that the three main parties get funded in totally different ways and it leads to a mess when trying to think of new ways of funding.

      I could defend union funding as the money comes direct from members but it can be changed (say an opt in system) if the compromise is a cap of say £50K per donor per year.

      What labour and LD’s both agree on at member level is that companies and wealthy people should not contribute to any party at the level of millions.

  1. Come and work in Scotland

  2. Johnson says:

    If the NHS is so great, why do most doctors have private health insurance?

    • Charles West says:

      The NHS has its problems, as any doctor will agree, but I don’t know where you get your idea that most doctors have private insurance. I have thirteen close relatives who work for the NHS. Not one of us has private insurance, and though I don’t enquire into the personal financial arrangements of colleagues, I very much doubt if most of my colleagues have either.

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