You’d be forgiven for thinking something is seriously wrong with the headline above. You don’t pay millions of pounds to sell a hugely profitable, going concern, do you?
No, you don’t – unless you’re part of a privatisation-crazy Conservative minority government in a hurry to sell off as many elements of state apparatus as you can before the electorate catches up with you and kicks you out of Whitehall.
The money – from NHS budgets that have been limited by Conservative policies and by the fact that private health companies are already siphoning parts of those budgets into their bank accounts as useless profit – was spent on “external advisors” who were employed to make NHS Professionals attractive to the private sector.
It was a gross, commercial use of cash that should have been focused on patient care.
Meanwhile, Accident & Emergency departments are preparing for the annual winter emergency caused by Tory underfunding and under-resourcing.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s big idea to stave off such a crisis is to force patients to wait three weeks for a GP appointment to be referred to A&E before they are allowed to go.
So he’ll kill off a large number of emergency patients before they ever get near a medical professional.
And the money spent on this bungle can be added to the millions spent on consultants who were hired to work out cuts to NHS services, in order to meet Tory budget demands. That’s more than £20 million – a small amount in relation to the annual cost of the NHS, maybe, but a huge amount if one accepts that it has been misused.
Here’s the bottom line:
People have died because the Conservatives are more interested in failed commercial interests than the national interest.
The Tories have secretly blown £3 million worth of taxpayers’ cash on consultants in a failed bid to privatise the NHS staffing agency.
Ministers desperately tried to sell off the respected NHS Professionals organisation which supplies doctors and nurses to hospitals.
But they were forced to perform a major U-turn following widespread anger and criticism from MPs, medical chiefs and health unions.
Now we can reveal that the Government spent £2.8 million on “external advisers” to work on the planned sale before it was abandoned.
The identities of the consultancy firms hired by the Tories have not been revealed.
The Department of Health said it abandoned the sale of the agency which supplies 90,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, after failing to receive any adequate bids.
The proposal had been strongly criticised because the use of NHS Professionals saves the NHS £70 million a year by supplying staff more cheaply than private sector agencies.
The £2.8 million bill will be paid for by taking a divided payment from NHS Professionals, but insisted “this will not impact on delivering frontline NHS services”.
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