Tag Archives: firm

Victory for grassroots campaign as Tories ‘delay’ giving away your private NHS patient data

This is a victory for social media campaigners like This Site.

The Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

I mean: if you’re in England, did you see the national advertising campaign on TV, the social media and in the newspapers? Did you catch the news spots with NHS and government representatives debating it with some of the many organisations who oppose it?

I didn’t think so.

Yet Health Minister Jo Churchill, announcing the “delay” in Parliament, had the bare-faced cheek to say the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us”.

The impression I get is that hardly anybody knew a single thing about it until Vox Political – along with a few other social media organisations – publicised it on June 2.

By then, less than three weeks were left before the original June 23 deadline for opting out.

So it was risible when Churchill told Parliament “patients own their own data”.

If that’s an admission that the Tories don’t own patient data, then why have they been trying to sell it ever since they formed their government in 2010? Isn’t that, you know, theft?

The good news is that This Site’s article – and those of the other social media sites that took an interest – caught the public interest and the government had to step back.

The Tories wouldn’t have announced this delay if they had not received significant resistance to their plan.

And the really good news is that the delay means more people can opt out of the scheme.

You can do this by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so.

Be sure to enjoy the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. And then ignore it.

Source: New NHS patient data store delayed by two months – BBC News

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Electoral Commission ‘wrongly recorded donations to Conservatives’. Oh, so is that all right, then?

Backhander? Or tax evasion? What was really going on with the donations to the Tory Party by companies that had long since gone out of business?

The Electoral Commission has admitted that it mistakenly recorded a donation to the Conservatives from an active company as being from a defunct firm, because they shared the same address.

It has asked for another mistake in recording a donation to the Tories to be taken into account as well.

Does that let the Tories off the hook, then?

No. No, it doesn’t.

There remains one more donation (of which we’re aware) to be explained.

It was apparently made by a firm called Unionist Buildings Limited, in June 2017. Records show the firm was dissolved six months early, in January that year.

The Conservatives have admitted incorrectly reporting donations from that firm but have given no further details.

Why not? Guilty conscience?

These discrepancies only came to light after the Labour Party discovered them and raised them with the Electoral Commission.

How can we be sure they are the only examples of false reporting of donations? We can’t, can we?

HM Revenue and Customs will be interested in donations from dissolved companies, particular if there are monies owing to HMRC or other creditors, because if you can pay donations, then you can pay your creditors.

Also, if this money came from the company, then was it profit generated by the company? If it was, then Corporation Tax and VAT is very likely to be due upon it.

In other words, has Labour uncovered tax evasion by Tory donors?

If so, we need to find out if this is an isolated incident or if it is more widespread. And we need to know now.

I wonder how the Tories will try to squirm out of this.

Source: Elections watchdog admits errors in reporting Tory donations – BBC News

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Tory time travel: now we find the Corruption Party has taken donations from dead firms

Backhander: is this how the Tories take their donations nowadays? In secret, so the donors can hide their identities in increasingly bizarre ways?

I can’t wait to hear the explanation for this, from whichever Tory anti-corruption tsar, ministerial standards watchdog or donations supremo will be ordered to whitewash it.

Will it bear any resemblance to the finding of the Electoral Commission, which is investigating?

Here’s the issue:

Two donations allegedly made to the Conservative Party from companies which had ceased to exist.

That’s right; they didn’t cease trading after giving the donations. They had already ceased to exist when the donations – worth £16,000 – were made.

It’s impossible. Logically, these were donations by people who wanted to hide the fact that they were donating to the Tories.

Now, why would anybody want to do that?

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, parties may only accept donations from a UK-registered company if it “carries on business in the United Kingdom”.

So a logical possibility is that these were donations from foreign concerns who had an interest – possibly financial – in the Conservatives.

For clarity, these are the donations concerned:

One was for a sum of £10,000 made in November 2019 by a company called Stridewell Estates. Government records indicate that the firm had been dissolved three years previously.

The second donation was made in June 2017 by a company called Unionist Buildings Limited which had apparently been dissolved in January of that year.

I wonder also if this is something to do with Brexit. I’ll say no more than that, for now.

Another question is why it took Labour this long to query these donations. Too busy accusing innocent party members of anti-Semitism?

Source: Labour demands probe into donations to Tories from defunct firms – BBC News

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If you’re in England, the government is planning to hand your private health records to people you don’t know – again

Readers in England: are you happy that the Tory government is about to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers?

Tory-run NHS Digital will hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million patients to “third parties” to “support the planning and commissioning of health and care services, the development of health and care policy, public health monitoring and interventions (including COVID-19) and enable many different areas of research.”

The announcement is carefully worded to avoid suggesting that your details are going to people who plan to make money out of them, but the simple fact is that, before privatisation was introduced in 2012, nobody but the NHS would have needed your records for the reasons given.

You can opt out of the scheme before June 23 by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so – and to ignore the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. They would, wouldn’t they?

If you think the Tories can be trusted on this, bear in mind that NHS Digital said the data could not be used “solely for commercial purposes”, which means that it will be used partly for commercial purposes.

Digital rights campaign group Foxglove has written to health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting that this plan is illegal.

And campaigners have also raised concerns that the scheme has not been sufficiently publicised. Did you know about it before reading this?

Healthcare IT News quoted Phil Booth of privacy organisation MedConfidential as follows:

“For the Government to rush out a data grab like this, with only a few weeks’ notice for patients and for GPs, is not only corrosive of trust – it’s deeply irresponsible. GPs are the busiest they’ve ever been and dumping this on them without time to prepare and the resources to handle patients’ opt-outs is the very worst sort of digital disruption.”

Absolutely.

NHS Digital is desperate to convince us that the data could only be used by “organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it”.

But recent experiences of health secretary Matt Hancock’s dealings with the private sector suggest that the database will go to anybody who has bunged the Tory Party a few quid over the last 10 or 20 years.

And, let’s face it, the Tories have a very poor record of trying to sell off your NHS records for a quick buck.

It’s one of the stories that has kept repeating over the last (nearly) 10 years, and This Site has reported on its progress:

The Tories tried to put GP records in a central database in 2013 under the Care.data programme, but it was abandoned in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.

My report of the time shows that the Tories are still using the same weak excuse for exploiting your private data, that failed to convince anyone eight years ago:

[Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Same excuses, same failure to publicise the plan… so we have all the same reasons to withdraw our permission. Don’t we?

I reported on it again in 2014.

And in 2016, after a review into care.data recommended that the scheme be scrapped, the Tories tried to sell your information anyway, but just without telling you.

Again, This Site reported on it:

The government’s review proposes to allow medical records from your family doctor, (possibly including NHS Numbers, diagnoses, referrals, prescriptions along with postcodes and dates of birth) to be uploaded to a giant national database – but this time without telling us or asking for our consent.

One of the schemes to replace care.data is called the “Single GP dataset”. The government’s review into care.data proposes to send all patient records from family GPs to the central database without the express consent of patients. Once in the system, it can be “sold” to any customers of the ‘Health and Social Care Information centre”, including private companies.

The government buried this announcement on the day of the report into the Iraq War. It is hoping no one will notice this new land grab on our medical records.

But people did notice.

And now I’m reporting on it again, so you will notice it again. I hope you will put a stop to it again, too.

And then I’ll look forward to reporting on another Tory bid to sell this information.

Judging by experience, we’ll be back here again in 2025.

Source: Privacy fears over NHS plans to share GP medical records with third parties | Healthcare IT News

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£2.6 million Downing Street briefing room was built by Russians. Not ‘very sensible’!

The new government media briefing room: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state.

After This Site’s article yesterday showing that Boris Johnson is trying to hide the idiocy of his decisions by claiming they are “very sensible”, this:

His government paid £2.6 million to a Russian company for construction of the new media briefing room – in Downing Street, the heart of the UK government.

Despite being sued for unlawfully withholding details of contracts, the Tory government has refused to say whether the work was put out to competitive tender. It should have been, because the contract was not awarded as part of an emergency.

In fact, no details of the contract with Russian-owned Megahertz have been published.

Megahertz carried out the main work on the project, including installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk. Its owner Okno-TV has previously carried out similar technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters Russia Today, Channel One, and Public Television of Russia.

It has not been suggested that the company is influenced by the Russian government, but the question has to be asked:

Why did Boris Johnson hire a company from a country that has been designated a “hostile state” to build a communications hub for the UK government?

It’s a security nightmare.

And, after the Salisbury poisonings, a public relations disaster.

Worse still, the briefing room itself looks amateurish.

Advance photos of the space, released before it goes into daily use, show a layout that could have been put together at a village hall, with a central podium backed by two Union flags and a TV screen on one side facing rows of the kind of chairs you see stacked at the side of your local meeting-room.

It doesn’t look like a £2.6m facility. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like it cost £2,000.

Admittedly, the broadcasting equipment was probably expensive. But, coming from a Russian firm, who knows what might be included in it, alongside what Johnson asked for?

The work also comes after a Tory government had to end the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G telecommunications in the UK.

So This Writer is in a rare position of agreement with Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary group on Russia, who said,

What shocks me most is that the Johnson government seems to have learnt nothing about the involvement in sensitive UK projects of companies with [links] to autocratic regimes, whether in Russia or in China.

Fundamental to the whole issue, of course, is the fact that Johnson spaffed this cash to Russia while do the dirty on nurses by giving them a pay cut.

It is clear that Johnson’s claim that he could not afford to pay any more to the people who saved so many from Covid-19 is bunkum; he’s got money to burn.

The problem is that his priorities are wrong.

Source: Exclusive: Russian-Owned Firm Played Key Role In Downing Street Media Refit | HuffPost UK

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GP surgeries are being privatised by the Tories. Do you really want your healthcare dictated by profit?


Doctors’ surgeries across the UK are being bought up and run for profit by private firms – including at least one from the United States.

American health insurance giant Centene has just taken over 49 NHS GP practices. In the last few years, they have bought NHS surgeries in Nottingham, Basingstoke, Milton Keynes, and Leeds. Yours could be next.

Centene appears to be a “bad actor” too – described by the Daily Mail as “profit greedy”.

In 2018, the company took control of a group of surgeries in Essex, including the historic Osler House surgery, founded in 1955. Soon after, Osler House was closed, leaving thousands of residents without a GP within 40 minutes’ drive from their house.

Healthcare provision doesn’t matter to them, you see. Their only concern is their profit.

In the US, Centene has been sued by thousands of people who bought insurance from them. Court papers showed that those people had “difficulty finding — in many cases cannot find — medical providers”.

Campaigning group We Own It said: “Your own local GP surgery or the local GP surgery your friends and family depend on may not be affected today. But if this takeover goes ahead, your GP surgery is not safe.

“Our local Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that make local healthcare decisions in every area – can stop this.”

The group is urging you to sign a petition calling for an end to Boris Johnson’s privatisation of GP services, and for you to urge your family, friends and colleagues to sign it too. Will you?

The petition is here.

The choice is yours.

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Employers need to plan for the future. Why is the ‘party of business’ denying them this security?

Ditherer: Rishi Sunak doesn’t know how to safeguard businesses and the UK economy, or link its well-being with public health because the neoliberal dogma he learned does not accommodate phenomena like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19-related support packages for businesses are set to end soon, with no extension or replacement announced – signifying a £50 billion loss to the UK’s economy.

According to Tory plans the furlough scheme, rates holidays, tax deferrals, VAT cuts and other support packages will be closed at the end of the financial year.

But businesses are now expecting to be closed well into the spring and possibly beyond.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is not likely to announce his plans for the future of the economy until he makes his spring Budget statement on March 3 – too late for many firms, whose bosses will have to make decisions based on information currently available to them before that, if they are to be seen to be acting with responsibility to their shareholders, creditors and even employees.

Labour has demanded immediate action and, for once, Keir Starmer’s party is right.

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell also touched a raw nerve when she said Boris Johnson’s Tory government had failed to ensure that business support was integrated with public health measures.

As a result, the UK’s Covid-related recession had been the worst of any major economy.

And the longer Sunak dithers, the worst the situation will become.

Source: Businesses facing £50bn ‘bombshell’ as Covid support withdrawn, warns Labour | The Independent

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Board members of UK’s biggest finance firms have had nearly 80% pay rise since 2009

Nice work if you can get it!

And, indeed, if you think it actually qualifies as work.

Board members on the UK’s largest financial companies have enjoyed an average pay rise of 79 per cent since 2009.

This means that during the decade of austerity, while you were probably facing a pay freeze – meaning a real-terms drop in income, median pay for the three highest earning non-executive directors (NEDs) in each of the FTSE 100’s 17 financial firms surged from £90,700 in 2009 to £162,000 in 2019.

They received this for attending – just attending, not necessarily contributing to – an average of 26 meetings a year.

The largest increases have been at Lloyds Banking Group, where top NEDs are earning 257% more than in 2009; the London Stock Exchange Group, where there has been a 219% rise; and investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, where fees have jumped 170%.

Remember, these firms don’t actually contribute anything to our lives – they don’t make anything, and such services as they do supply are highly exclusive.

They make money by betting on whether other businesses will do well or badly. That’s what investment is, after all – a wager that providing money to those firms now will bring a profitable return later.

It’s a game for the very rich.

And it depends on keeping the people who do the actual work very poor.

Payroll is always the largest cost to any firm so, if they are to provide an expected return to investors from firms like Lloyds Banking Group, the London Stock Exchange Group, Hargreaves Lansdown, Phoenix, Barclays, Prudential, Aviva, Admira, RSA, NatWest and so on, businesses have to keep pay low.

So these 79 per cent pay increases for finance firms arise from their board members attaching themselves to you like leeches and sucking out all the benefits that you should be enjoying.

Remember that as you endure the hardships you’ll be asked to face in 2021.

Source: UK’s biggest financial firms have given boards near-80% pay rise since 2009 | Business | The Guardian

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Tory cronies pocketed portion of £18bn in health funds – and provided worthless results

Spaffer: Johnson and his Cabinet colleagues have been voting cash over to Tory companies by the billion, and haven’t cared what they got back because you are footing the bill.

Isn’t it time Boris Johnson provided an itemised list of every contract outsourced to private firms under the emergency tendering procedure, with details of the results and how far they fell short of what was agreed?

According to the Mirror,

Private firms have creamed off ­almost £18billion of health funds during the Covid crisis – and much of it has gone to Conservative Party cronies, Labour claims.

Official figures show the cost of outsourced contracts is even more than the Treasury’s latest allocation for extra emergency spending to deal with the virus.

A National Audit Office report revealed last month that half of all the contracts were awarded without going to competitive tender – and at least 13 companies who won one had links to the Tories.

Tory chums have had the lion’s share of our money, we haven’t had value for it in return, and Rishi Sunak wants us to pay it all back.

It’s nothing but a huge con.

Let’s have the accounts – and accountability.

Source: Tory cronies among private firms pocketing £18bn in health funds during Covid-19 crisis – Mirror Online

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No u-turn on free school meals, says Brandon Lewis – kids will have to survive on charity

Brandon Lewis: this is an old image so the facts about his houses may be out of date.

If you think we’ve reached peak Tory cruelty, allow me to point out at the outset that we haven’t.

It may seem that way, with Boris Johnson and his government passing cash hand-over-fist to their Tory chums while ordering that children stricken with a poverty that they have created must starve, but believe me – it is possible for these soulless monsters to do much worse.

On the subject of soulless monsters, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis made an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today to make it clear that, no matter how much abuse they receive, Tory MPs have absolutely no intention of reversing their decision to deny free school meals to kids who need them over the half-term and Christmas holidays.

He claimed that the Tory government has already put huge amounts of money aside for this purpose but the claim does not correspond with reality; he was just plucking numbers from his rear end.

Marr told him businesses were stepping up and Lewis signified his approval. But we have an answer to that :

The Tory response to the charity from local businesses was to claim that these firms clearly do not need government support during the Covid crisis and should not apply for it; a clear indicator that they intend to punish anybody in a position to stop poor children from starving:

The Tory MP highlighted in the article, Selaine Saxby (North Devon), has since claimed that she was misrepresented…

… but it is hard to see how “I am delighted our local businesses have bounced back so much after lockdown they are able to give away food for free, and very much hope they will not be seeking any further government support” can be interpreted any other way.

Ms Saxby was elected last December with a massive majority of 14,813 votes – that’s 14,813 more than her nearest rival, 26.6 per cent of the total. She took 56.5 per cent of the vote altogether.

This means the people of North Devon voted by an overall majority to support a Conservative who endorses policies that put children in poverty, and votes to starve them once they are there.

I know This Site has readers from that constituency who are sickened by their MP’s choices. Public voting habits being what they are, it will be up to these people to force their peers to see what they have supported – possibly by finding local examples of children who are going hungry as a result of this cruel Tory policy? – and make them face their responsibility for it.

Meanwhile the backlash against the Tories continues:

Davies is the MP for Grantham and Stamford. People living there: you know what to do.

If you have made a similar infographic – or have seen one – please send it in so I can publish it here.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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