• by Allyson Pollock, who is professor of public health and director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, and the author of "NHS PLC"; Published on 18th January 2018 in the "New Statesman"

    See Prof Pollock's TED talk "Privatisation of the NHS" - 29th April 2014 - in "Videos"

    Proposals for the health service will put billions of pounds of contracts into the hands of similarly structured organisations.

    It increasingly looks like the collapse of Carillion will not only cost the UK many millions of pounds but also endanger the delivery of vital public services and projects. And yet, even as the government scrambles to clean up the mess left by the contractor’s failure, it is currently proposing to allow NHS services to be put into the hands of companies which operate in the same way.

    Carillion already has a raft of NHS Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) contracts in the NHS, including owning and operating 11,000 hospital beds in a dozen NHS hospitals in England and Scotland as well as several General Practitioner (GP) surgeries and community services.

    Under the PFI, builders, bankers and service operators like Carillion, rather than government, raised money and entered into long term 30-year contracts with public bodies to pay back the debt. The extortionate costs to the taxpayer of this private borrowing are well documented. In the case of the NHS, which has been paying consortium members including bankers and shareholders a high annual charge for private finance, this is fueling serious financial difficulties in many hospitals and across the NHS. With money diverted to private pockets, beds and services have closed and staff have been reduced.

    [for more on "Accountable Care Organisations" - the "next big thing" for the NHS]