STPs will let in more private sector companies as the NHS is stripped of funds



Letter to the Guardian from John Furse and others, 38 Degrees Chelsea and Fulham

We’re disturbed by David Babbs’s article (Politicians have failed the NHS. We need people power to save it, 26 August). The 38 Degrees report on NHS “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” to which he refers doesn’t point to what’s behind NHS England’s carrot-and-stick strategy.

By offering additional funding for NHS commissioners who satisfactorily reduce their deficits and by threatening punitive “special measures” for those who don’t, the STPs will serve private sector interests. NHS cuts to reduce deficits will mean the NHS, and the public, having to seek more services from the private sector. More public money will benefit private companies whose services cost far more than a publicly funded, publicly run NHS. Less accessible services and longer waiting times will push the public to pay for private health insurance.

Babbs omits to mention US influence in NHS restructuring, which Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged. Major US consultancies and healthcare corporations like McKinsey and UnitedHealth are heavily involved. But he confirms that 38 Degrees commissioned Incisive Health, lobbyists for Virgin Healthcare and the privatisers’ NHS Partners Network, to produce its crowdfunded report. It’s not surprising it glosses over what the STPs prefigure – the replacement of an NHS once recognised as world leading in cost-effective public healthcare by a privatised system whose providers’ financial interests will have undue sway. As members of 38 Degrees, we think it’s vital that it isn’t seen as an NHS privatisers’ tool.

John Furse, Barbara Beese, Julia Campbell, Verite Reily Collins, Jim Grealy, Merril Hammer, Karl Hevera, Ian Irvine, Tina Mackenzie, Craig Nicol, John Ralph, Linda Robinson, Teresa Schaefer, Heinz Schumi, Margaret Spector, Alexandra Veres, Martin Woodford
38 Degrees Chelsea and Fulham Group