Spinwatch: "The privatizing cabal at the heart of our NHS"


This is a Spinwatch article dated 1st April 2015.


Update 22nd October 2015: Tim Kelsey (founder and owner of "Dr Foster", a self-appointed hospitals mortality and health quality ranking website) has left his role as NHS Director in charge of rolling out Care.data, the data collection programme which attracted adverse publicity because it was an "opt-out", not "opt-in" choice. He is off to Australia to become commercial director of Telstra Health, a telecommunications provider (for "telehealth" care programmes).


" 'Our' NHS?" an article on the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Today.co.uk website

The article "Our" NHS (October 2015) by film director and producer John Furse, a resident of Kensington and Chelsea, argues that behind the trusted logo "our" NHS is becoming "their" NHS, its services increasingly outsourced to private sector providers. And at a far greater cost to the NHS than if it remained its own provider... Is it surprising that NHS costs, as a percentage of GDP, have doubled since the first major privatisation legislation in 1990?

It includes biographies of the Chairman, Sir Richard Sykes, and directors of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Their backgrounds, with the exception of the chairman, are exclusively in the financial/ hedge fund/ large accountancy firms sector.

Sir Richard is a prominent biochemist, his CV includes chairmanships of GlaxoSmithKline and currently three biotech/health tech companies.

He’s also chair of think-tank Reform, who want total public spending cut along with taxes so that individuals can provide for their own healthcare needs and obtain high quality services more ‘efficiently’. Paying for your GP visits is one of their wheezes.

....The Imperial Trust has other non-executive private sector notables on its board – Jeremy Isaacs, founder of hedge fund JRJ, with an arm in tax haven Jersey. His CV includes spells as a Goldman Sachs director and a Lehman’s overseas CEO until 2008, Lehman’s annus implodius. He is joined by Rothschild executive vice chairman Dr Andreas Raffelm, and Sarika Patel, partner in Zeus Capital, an investment bank heavily into infrastructure and real estate, who are also Imperial Trust board members.

Patel has held ‘key roles’ at accountancy giant Grant Thornton. Such accountancy behemoths are the ‘fixers’ between corporate and investment big hitters and their targets. Imperial has a biggie in Sir Gerald Acher, a senior partner at mega auditors KPMG.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

The directors of the Chelsea and Westminster Trust are less well-known to supporters of Charing Cross hospital, so it's worth reproducing these biographies here:

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s non-executive chair is Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, a former banker who promotes the line that “The NHS can’t afford to treat us all for free. It’s time we paid for our care”. Begging the obvious question that if we could bail out his lot, why not the NHS?

His vice-chair is Sir John Baker, whose CV includes leading the UK electricity privatisation programme before becoming CEO of privatised National Power plc. Chelsea & Westminster Trust non-executive director is Jeremy Jensen, director of Aaronite Partners, specialists at ‘restructuring’ distressed businesses. He’s also director of MPG Hospital Holdings who own, operate, and lease UK hospitals. Adding her mergers and acquisitions expertise is former BP exec Eliza Hermann.

He concludes:
....a publicly funded and serviced NHS is far cheaper than a privatised one. Bank bailouts and Quantitative Easing (QE) have been a revelation – governments can actually print billions without causing rampant inflation or the collapse of their currencies.

Whether through QE, taxes, and/or bonds, our government could in fact fully fund the NHS, particularly with interest rates set to remain at historic lows. It’s also an investment that produces tens of thousands of jobs, healthy workers, and consumers old and young with spending power to stimulate the economy.

But the NHS, like most of our politicians, has been infected by 30 years of a free-market ideology whose true workings have been exposed by the 2008 Banking Crash and its aftermath. The boards of our local hospitals are overseeing the turning over of NHS assets and services to the private sector are symptomatic of that infection.

"At what cost? Paying the price for the (internal) market in the English NHS" by Prof Calum Paton

This is a paper published by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest in February 2014: a seminal and excoriating indictment of the "evidence-free" policies of successive Governments in England.

Calum Paton is now Professor of Public Policy at Keele University, where he has been Professor of Health.


1. Extreme financial pressure upon the English NHS for the foreseeable future makes avoidance of waste imperative. The 'market' in the NHS is a major source of waste.Creating and maintaining markets has incurred huge direct costs and significant 'opportunity costs' – money which could have spent upon patient care and clinical re-design.

2. Not only has evidence to justify 'market reforms' to the English NHS from 1990 to the present-day been absent, but the recent Health and Social Care Act of 2012 actually ignores, or even inverts, evidence which suggests that 'commissioning' by GPs in local markets characterised by separate 'purchasers' and 'providers' is costly and of dubious effectiveness. The only reasonable conclusion is that that market policy is based upon ideological dogma, pressure from commercial interests or both.

3. It has been argued that the only way in which hospitals and other service providers can be reimbursed in a timely manner for their workload, and given the incentive to increase workload and productivity, is through the operation of market forces. This is simply untrue and based on a re-writing of history.

4. The recurrent, annual costs of the market can be estimated (conservatively) at £4.5 billion.

5. The one-off, start-up costs of the various phases of the market (1991-97; 2001-2007; 2010 to date) have run into billions of pounds, with (again, conservative) estimates of the most recent market initiatives under New Labour and then the Coalition government comprising £3 billion each.

6. This paper sets out how the wider costs of the market have included both opportunities foregone and likely harm to the system.

7. Possible benefits from the market are hotly contested in the research community and – even if one grants the benefits claimed by supporters of the market – very small when set against the costs.

8. It would take ideological chutzpah of the most irresponsible sort to suggest that the answer to the failure of the market so far is 'more market'. The paper suggests why.

9. It is possible to have patient choice and high-quality health-care without the market. The paper suggests how.

Submission to the People's Inquiry into London's NHS - commission chaired by Michael Mansfield QC




Submission to The People’s Enquiry into London’s NHS

December 2014



Save Our Hospitals (SOH) has been campaigning, together with other groups in NW London, against the proposals in Shaping a Healthier Future for over 2 years. As well as campaigning, every week, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, we have attended CCG meetings, Imperial Board meetings, Healthwatch and have had two formal meetings of our officers with the CEO of Imperial, Dr Tracey Batten, and several of her senior officers. (We have attached our reports on these meetings to this submission as Appendix A and Appendix B). Week by week we are told of how concerned people are at the proposals and how angry they feel that their needs are not being taken into account.


Read more ...

"Liberating" the NHS: source and destination of the Lansley reforms (Reynolds, Lister, Scott-Samuel and McKee) August 2011

For the background to the 2012 Health and Social Care Act please read "Liberating the NHS: Source and destination of the Lansley reforms" by Dr Lucy Reynolds, Dr John Lister, Dr Alex Scott-Samuel and Professor Martin McKee, 29th August 2011