Tag Archives: private

Health service in England to be privatised as Tories pass misnamed ‘Health and Care’ Bill

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket): many Conservative MPs have shares in private health companies that will profit from this legislation.

So that’s that. The National Health Service in England is to be carved into 42 smaller organisations that will be passed into the hands of private, profit-making health companies:

The boards of the new Integrated Care Systems, that commission services, will be dominated by profit-grubbers, and they’re not going to give the non-profit organisation a chance to take money out of their shareholders’ pockets.

This means the duty to provide a comprehensive health service is being abolished. The quality of healthcare in all parts of England will plummet as a result.

The only hope now is for the Lords to bounce the Bill back with significant amendments. This is a possibility as the Tories are in a minority there. But the Commons will most likely just send it back with the amendments reversed because many Tory MPs have shares in profit-making health firms.

Let’s also spare a moment to remind ourselves that Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour leader, warned everybody in the United Kingdom that this was the Conservative plan, with more than 450 pages of evidence, in the run-up to the 2019 election.

His words were ridiculed and Boris Johnson’s Tories were elected with a landslide majority after around 13 million people voted for them.

By a curious coincidence, the NHS waiting list is expected to swell past 13 million over the next few months – due entirely to the same Tory government’s utter indifference to your health.

Many of those waiting more than a year, in pain and suffering, for routine procedures will be the very same Conservative voters who put Johnson and his raiders in power. Do they now have buyers’ remorse?

Not a bit of it!

Like petulant children, Tory voters hate being told they were wrong and will self-harm as a response to being told how to help themselves.

Trust me on that.

I’ve been pointing out Tory failures for years and that’s why This Site’s readership is so… er… exclusive.

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Aircraft owner Grant Shapps lobbies against his own government’s plan to built on private runways

Grant Shapps: he’s not stranger to controversy. Check out the businesses he ran under his pseudonyms Michael Green, Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockheath.

The Transport Secretary of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is spending public money paying private lobbyists to argue against his own government’s plans to build on aircraft runways that are privately-owned, it has been alleged.

The reason? The government minister concerned – Grant Shapps – is the owner of a private aircraft, and also of a private runway.

The allegations are made in a Times article hidden behind a paywall:

So that’s all the information we have. Alok Sharma was certainly being cagey about it when Andrew Marr interviewed him:

The issue is clear: government policy is to build houses on land currently occupied by the runways used by owners of private planes.

Shapps is paying private lobbyists to try to get the government – of which he is Transport Secretary – to change this policy. He is using public – government – money to fund this activity.

So the government is paying your money to fund opposition to its own policy.

It has been said before but could it ever be more clear?

These Tories really do think it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

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Covid-19 is still killing more than 100 people a day. Why the media blackout?

Still deadly after all these months: Covid-19 is currently infecting around 40,000 people a day – and killing 130-150.

Did you think the Covid-19 crisis was over?

That seems to be what your government – and media – want you to think. Think again.

Here are a few facts from October 6 – the day of Boris Johnson’s speech to the Conservative Party conference, in which he hardly mentioned Covid at all:

Yesterday, this graph became available. Note that the UK is spiking again, while Germany, France and Spain are plummeting.

The BBC has, at least, reported on the latest evidence – albeit with an attempt at self-justification. “Unnoticed”? John Whittle puts that fiction right:

The trouble in the UK is that we are a nation in denial. The BBC article plays down the significance of a death toll as high as three major commercial aircraft crashes every week, and so does the head of the UK Health Security Agency:

This Site’s long-term friend Samuel Miller puts his finger on the reason we let these people get away with it: fatigue.

Is there an ulterior motive for the sudden silence? Covid has provided Boris Johnson’s corrupt government with opportunities to siphon billions of pounds out of the public purse and into private pockets. Now we have this:

Adam, below, explains the situation succinctly:

That’s one and two-thirds million pounds per patient. Would you call that value for money? Or is it a rip-off of the public purse to enrich the profit-grubbers?

The crisis of Covid is nowhere near its end. And the scandal of Covid has hardly even begun.

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Private Eye bashed over anti-Semitism coverage by accused historian

Private Eye: The Beast certainly seems to have a point when he suggests the Eye’s coverage of anti-Semitism is one-sided.

Fair play – at least Private Eye had the guts to publish this letter from my brother the Beast, in full, without trying to justify itself in any way.

The scan is a bit faint and I know some of you won’t be able to read it, so here are the salient parts:

“I have followed with interest your coverage of the mass accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party and the purges of those accused. I regret to say that I have found this coverage to be almost wholly one-sided.

“You have given little opportunity for the victims of what can only be described as a witch-hunt to speak for themselves.

“Worse, you seem to have blindly followed the media groupthink and automatically assumed that the Labour Party did have a severe antisemitism problem, that Jeremy Corbyn was an antisemite, and that those accused were indeed guilty.

“This left me somewhat perplexed, as your magazine has a strong tradition of criticising Israel and standing up for those who have been falsely accused. I am offering you the opportunity to correct this bias.

“Yesterday I received a message from the Labour Party Complaints Team informing me that I was being investigated for antisemitism based on an article I had published on my blog.

“In this I agreed with another blogger, Tony Greenstein, a proud Jewish critic of Zionism, that Zionism was an internalised Jewish version of antisemitism and that Israel is indeed a racist, colonialist state.

“The argument is supported by solid historical scholarship, quoting reputable historians and the major figures in Zionist history themselves.

“I am not an antisemite, a form of racism that I find particularly abhorrent, and have published very many pieces on my blog attacking it and other forms of racism, as well as its political expressions, Fascism and Nazism.

“I am determined to fight these false accusations and this attempt to suppress reasonable criticism of Israel by automatically equating it with genuine despicable hatred of Jews.

“DAVID SIVIER

“BA (Hons) History, MA History PhD Archaeology”

Please don’t get sidetracked into speculation that my brother is a modern version of Indiana Jones. The relevance of his qualifications is that, when he discusses Israel, Zionism, anti-Semitism, Fascism and Nazism, he knows exactly what he is discussing.

So it will be very interesting to see if his missive receives any responses in subsequent Eye letter columns – and to examine, with the Beast himself, the quality of those responses.

We all know – don’t we? – that none of the arguments matter. Labour has accused Dr Dave and the fact that he knows far more about this subject than his accusers won’t stop them from expelling him from the party as soon as they get the chance.

They’re utterly ignorant, but they have a quota to meet, or masters to obey, or whatever excuse it is today.

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Boris Johnson broke ministerial code on by-election trip – because he can?

He loves it: the overgrown schoolboy that some of us put in charge of the country thinks it’s a terrific wheeze that he can flout the rules in our faces and get away with it.

This is typical of Boris Johnson and his government.

They deliberately break the rules by which we all have to live, just to show us that they can.

If Boris Johnson wrongly used public funds to make a party political visit to Hartlepool ahead of this year’s by-election there, it wasn’t an accident.

Of course, a row has sprung up after the Conservative Party’s spending return did not include the cost of the trip – which was by private jet, let’s all remember:

Johnson flew by private jet from London Stansted to Teesside International Airport, travelling in a motorcade to Middlesbrough, where he conducted official government business promoting a rise in the minimum wage at the DIY store B&Q.

He was then driven to Hartlepool, where he met with the Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer for a visit to the local company Hart Biologicals, supporting her campaign in the constituency.

The pair then visited a nearby housing estate for doorknocking, leafleting, and speaking to residents, the Hartlepool Mail reported.

That afternoon, Johnson flew back from Teesside International Airport to Stansted.

None of the costs of Johnson’s travel by plane or car appear to be included in the spending return, which says the candidate spent nothing on transport.

The Labour Party has demanded an inquiry into the breach of spending rules, which is also a breach of the Ministerial Code (government ministers must not use public money for party political business).

This Writer doesn’t understand why she didn’t take it straight to the police – unless this is tacit acknowledgement that MPs are above the law and the police simply wouldn’t lift a finger.

I wonder also why the Electoral Commission has not become involved, as election spending is a matter for that organisation and failure to declare it properly is also a criminal offence.

Perhaps this is a reason Labour is going so easy on the matter:

That Jeremy Corbyn. How dare he show everybody else up by being honest!

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Millions opt out of NHS data grab, forcing it – temporarily? – to go ‘on hold’

Money-making scam: The idea was to make your confidential health information public knowledge, in order to make money for private health firms (some of which are from the United States).

This is a victory for people power.

You remember your Tory government’s plan to give away your personal – private – health records to marauding health companies so they can profit from them?

The plan that keeps surfacing every few years and keeps getting batted back by a UK public that wants this material to stay confidential?

Well, we’ve just succeeded in stopping it again. For the time being, at least.

The current attempt started in May, when NHS Digital announced that, if you lived in England, it would be putting the private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits onto disc and handing them to “third parties”. Almost nobody noticed.

The plan provided an opportunity for patients to opt out – if they did so by a deadline of June 23, which was ridiculously fast. It seems clear that the intention was to pass your information over before you even knew it was happening.

And then organisations like This Site became involved.

I published my first article about this on June 2.

The result was uproar.

Now we see that, after 107,429 people opted out in May, when nobody knew about it, 1,275,153 did so in June – around 12 times as many people.

Questions were asked in the House of Commons and the opt-out deadline was extended to September – and now the scheme is being withdrawn altogether, albeit temporarily, according to NHS Digital.

May we conclude that even more millions of people opted out during July and the first weeks of August?

But NHS Digital is not abandoning the scheme altogether – just pausing it, with no new launch date. Here’s The Observer:

It will soon start a “listening exercise” and consultation process before launching a public information campaign.

Who will be told about it?

In a major concession to critics, patients will now be allowed to opt out at any stage, with their data deleted even if it has already been uploaded.

Am I the only one with doubts about that? If it has already been provided to private firms, there’s nothing to stop them from taking that information off the database and keeping it in a form of their own. If they know it may be altered, they probably will.

NHS Digital is also pledging to increase the security and privacy of the data, even while researchers are working with it.

I do not believe this.

There is a fundamental dishonesty that goes to the heart of this scheme, and it is the lie that private firms care about your health more than their profits.

Private firms were allowed to run NHS services for profit soon after the David Cameron coalition government came into office, in a change supported by many Tory MPs who had shares in those firms.

The plan to give your confidential information to those private firms was first tried very soon after that, in 2013. To me, this was evidence that the Tory plan all along had been to make money for profit-grubbers and not to improve healthcare.

The public has batted it away time and time again since then, but time and time again the Tories have brought it back.

Their latest claim is that

“Patient data is vital to healthcare planning and research. It is being used to develop treatments for cancer, diabetes, long Covid and heart disease, and to plan how NHS services recover from Covid.”

That’s why they want to take away our right to privacy and confidentiality and I don’t believe a word of it. How can it be used to develop these treatments when we haven’t handed it over? And how have these treatments been developed in the past?

The simple fact is that it is our information – not theirs. And if we don’t want it to be shared, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Source: NHS data grab on hold as millions opt out | NHS | The Guardian

Bonanza for private health firms as Tories cut NHS’s ability to cope

Private hospitals are set to mop up more than £2 billion in new deals – £200 million of which will be pure profit for shareholders – to provide non-urgent procedures like hip replacement operations because the NHS is struggling with Tory underfunding.

It’s typical financial incompetence from the Tories – they’d rather send £200 million to the private offshore tax-haven bank accounts of greedy profiteers than invest it in the health of the English people (this is an English NHS plan).

And experience indicates that the NHS will have to come back and sort out the mess after the private firms botch a significant percentage of the operations (unless they’ve managed to stop doing that? If anyone has new information on this, please let me know).

According to iNews,

The Government has drawn up contingency plans for further local, regional, or national lockdowns in England, but hopes the deals to create around 7,000 extra beds in private hospitals will help avoid the need for the reintroduction of Covid restrictions.

The signing of further contracts with the private sector follows a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found NHS waiting lists could almost treble to 14 million by autumn next year.

A spokesman for NHS England claimed such deals between the NHS and private healthcare groups are struck “at the same cost to taxpayers” as NHS services. However, similar contracts throughout the pandemic have agreed a “cost-plus” pricing formula, which allow for profits of between 8 and 10 per cent to be paid to the hospital groups.

Private hospital groups such as Circle Health, Ramsay Health Care and Spire Healthcare are believed to been among those discussing new and expanded deals with the Department for Health and Social Care.

This is just throwing good money after bad.

And the reason it is necessary? Here‘s the Morning Star:

NHS workers are trapped in a “vicious circle” of staff shortages and exhaustion, health service experts have warned, as they called for better funding of the health service.

Real investment in capacity is needed to address vacancies in the NHS, the effect of which has been compounded by increasing rates of staff sickness, said Dr Layla McCay, policy director of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service organisations.

The warning came after MPs published a damning report in June highlighting “emergency” levels of staff burnout in the healthcare sector.

There are currently 76,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, including 40,000 for doctors.

Last month, research by doctors’ union BMA found that England was 25 years behind comparable European nations in terms of the number of doctors per 1,000 people.

Saying that it was “unforgivable” that the government had allowed workforce levels to reach this point, the union demanded extra Treasury investment in training and retaining doctors.

So there you have it.

The NHS would be able to cope with the extra work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – if only the Conservative Government had funded it properly, making it possible to employ and retain a number of doctors equivalent to those available in other European nations.

But they didn’t. Once again, despite being the sixth-richest country in the World, the UK is the “poor man” in terms of the value we get for that money.

And rather than even begin to put right that lack of investment, the Tory imbeciles are wasting money by throwing it at private firms who will invest it in their own private back accounts rather than in treating people who need it.

That really is sick!

It conforms with Noam Chomsky’s definition of privatisation technique perfectly, though: defund, make sure things don’t work… hand it over to private capital.

The Tories in government are swearing that the private contracts are just a stop-gap measure while the NHS is struggling.

But just you watch them and see if they ever take that work back in-house.

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Why aren’t private health employers already paying MORE than the NHS?

A hospital ward: the NHS employs workers in many more areas than merely medical care – many from private firms. Why aren’t they all on compatible pay rates and why should public funds support pay rises in private firms?

The trade union Unison has said that workers employed by private health companies – that work within the NHS – should not miss out on the three per cent pay rise the government is providing.

I have a problem with this.

We have been told for years that private health firms should be allowed to provide NHS services because they can do so, better than if the NHS offered them in-house.

Surely that should also extend to pay?

If not – as appears to be the case – then doesn’t this prove that privatisation is just a backdoor means of inappropriately funnelling cash to bosses and shareholders, that should be used on health treatments?

Also, if pay rates aren’t equal, then doesn’t this make it possible for employers to set private and public-sector workers against each other?

Finally, if private firms match the pay rise, won’t the money actually come from the UK Treasury – so the increase will be funded by the public, rather than by the private shareholders who should be providing it?

Unison has opened a huge can of worms here. Can anybody think of a solution to these problems?

Source: Union calls on private NHS employers to match public-sector pay rises | NHS | The Guardian

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How will minister be punished for replacing phone before it could be searched?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business so we know he’s a liar. Shouldn’t he be sacked by the Tory government?

The answer is that Lord Bethell probably won’t be punished at all.

But if he were involved in a criminal investigation (and he might as well be – as the awarding of many deals for supply of Personal Protective Equipment to Tory chums and/or donors who were incapable of providing it seems extremely crooked) and he ditched the evidence, he would be charged with a crime.

Here are the facts:

Labour has called for an inquiry into the use of WhatsApp within the government, after it emerged a health minister replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

James Bethell, who oversaw the award of Covid contracts, is one of those under scrutiny over the way deals for personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests were allocated at the height of the pandemic.

As part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project, the government is expected to disclose Lord Bethell’s correspondence including by email, WhatsApp and SMS relating to the award of £85m of contracts for antibody tests to Abingdon Health.

The secretary of state has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour”.

However, a witness statement from a government lawyer revealed Bethell replaced his phone in early 2021 and it may no longer be possible to retrieve the information about his dealings with Abingdon, although efforts are being made to recover them from his mobile phone provider.

The statement said Bethell had used his official email account as well as his private email account to send and receive emails relevant to the contracts, and that he had also used his mobile phone for SMS and WhatsApp messages. But it said Bethell had confirmed that about six months ago his phone was broken and replaced and that his new phone did not contain the phone data.

Government lawyers revealed Bethell had not been issued with a “preservation notice” requiring him to save documents because ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

What does he have to hide?

When they’re under an investigation with legal consequences, people with nothing to fear don’t destroy the evidence.

And Bethell must know that the information will be available by other means – although logically there shouldn’t be anything to stop him from reactivating his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts. Why hasn’t he done so?

The fact that government preservation notices don’t cover business conducted by private means, while government ministers are allowed to carry out government business in that way and are trusted to duplicate it into the public system, is a huge opening for corruption.

And it seems clear that this particular minister has exploited it.

Maybe I’m wrong – and I’ll be happy to apologise of Lord Bethell can provide clear proof that he was not responsible for any wrongdoing.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

Source: Covid contracts: minister replaced phone before it could be searched | Health policy | The Guardian

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Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails. What does Johnson NOT want to find?

Matt Hancock: I thought I might not get another chance to use this image of him looking gormless. How wrong I was!

Despite admitting that Matt Hancock used his private email address to carry out government business, Boris Johnson’s gang won’t check his private emails to find out what he did in them.

Why not?

It seems the government has no record of much of Hancock’s decision-making during the pandemic, and this is because he carried out his business by private email.

Government guidelines expressly demand that ministers who use their personal emails for Parliamentary business should “take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible” but it seems clear that Hancock hasn’t bothered.

Otherwise, why would The Sunday Times state that no record exists to show how Hancock negotiated PPE contracts, created the test-and-trace programme and oversaw the care homes strategy?

The nation needs to know about these matters because we need to know how much money he wasted on the first two, and how many lives he wasted on the third.

It seems clear that the only reason the government won’t go through Hancock’s emails is fear of embarrassment; he was incompetent at best, and a search could reveal the kind of mistakes that are actionable in court.

The claim to have been through 1.4 million documents already, so checking Hancock’s mail won’t be necessary, is clearly a smokescreen. Why do all that work when you can get all the information you need just by looking at one person’s emails?

The Good Law Project is already calling for Hancock’s inbox and outbox to be examined.

If the information won’t be provided willingly, perhaps this organisation should seek a court order?

Source: Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails – BBC News

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.

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