Showing posts with label 'NHS privatisation'. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 'NHS privatisation'. Show all posts

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Healthcare UK: A conduit for Market expansion? Part Two of Two Part report

This is part two of a two part report on Healthcare UK. See part one here first.

Expand the ‘domestic market’
The use of the ‘
NHS brand’ to sell healthcare abroad has greatly benefited commercial organisations, with over 80% of contracts landing in private hands. This disproportion towards private healthcare contracts is also taking place on a much larger scale in the NHS. Since the Health and Social Care Act officially began in April 2012, research carried out by the NHS Support Foundation revealed 70% of NHS contracts have ended up with private firms amounting to billions of pounds worth of income.

What this amounts to is an aggressive expansion of the UK healthcare market, which although not mentioned in government propaganda, is their intent. Healthcare UK was also meant to benefit the NHS, but contained in the memorandum signed between Healthcare UK and the Chinese Ministry of Health, it is clear that the main areas of cooperation are designed towards channeling contract opportunities towards private companies. See Appendix 1

The financial awards from China are potentially
immense with David Cameron claiming the Chinese healthcare market will grow by $400 billion by 2017. China is seeking to develop a “safe, effective, convenient and affordable” healthcare system to both urban and rural areas by 2020; furthermore, Premier Li Keqiang recently stated he wants to “open the door for private capital”. It is no wonder Cameron wants the UK private sector to be a part of that process.

Access to Policy
A further MOU held between Healthcare UK and CITIC Trust, a Chinese investment arm of the CITIC Group, reveals the extent of cooperation required for their partnership to work. ‘Citic’ it reads, will provide ‘financial support for selected UK healthcare companies wanting to ‘extend their business in China’. In return, Healthcare UK will act as a ‘source of information’ on the ‘UK healthcare industry’, receive access to health ‘policy’, ‘confidential’ information, as well as be invited to form partnerships with ‘UK healthcare organisations.’

When asked about the nature of the ‘confidential’ and policy information provided to CITIC, Ian Cranshaw the Chinese lead for Healthcare UK said, “The confidential information referred to would likely be commercial in confidence type information”. However, he failed to address the policy information that would be imparted. Will CITIC be in advance notice of policy so that it can better select its investments? Will CITIC receive policy before parliament or the people?

The secretive nature of Healthcare UK beyond the marketing publications that adorn its website, means such questions remain unanswered.

Selling debt
The opportunities for private companies don’t end there. A further MOU made between Healthcare UK and the health Bureau of the Eastern coastal province of Zhejiang contains a much wider level of agreement.

These include the design of ‘Health policy and regulation’, ‘Training Medical Staff’, establishing primary care provision, and ‘Systems for national and private insurance’. In addition Healthcare UK will find UK companies to aid China in ‘public and private hospital finance, construction, operation and regulation (PFI)’.

The policy of PFI in the UK has been catastrophic for the NHS with the treasury predicting a total financial burden of £242 billion. PFI continues to plague NHS Hospital Trusts to the point of near bankruptcy, which led to the first takeover of the running of an NHS hospital in Cambridgeshire by Healthcare UK beneficiaries Circle.

Elite private companies largely run PFI, and it is the cruelest of irony that more PFI opportunities should be made by using the ‘NHS brand’. Companies like construction firm Interserve, who have Conservative Peer Lord Blackwell as a director, have raked in millions of pounds through selling some of their PFI interests. Serco and Carillion, who both have representatives on the board of Healthcare UK, have also gained major revenue through PFI schemes, and this particular avenue in China, will do nothing for the NHS.

In order to gain “business wins” in the Zhejiang province, Healthcare UK provides pilot programmes from which they aim to gain contracts for those involved. Yet here again, Mr Cranshaw explained “the pilots involve private UK companies rather than NHS institutions”, and as the pilot schemes are ongoing, what these pilot schemes are and who is involved face commercial restrictions.

The government has claimed the three agreements with China will provide £120 million to the UK economy, though how they have reached that sum is currently unclear and a request for a breakdown of these figures has been made. Of course any deals that are confirmed will not necessarily have the names of the companies attached and so we will be unclear whether those gaining contracts are based in low tax jurisdictions; have donated to any political party or indeed held meetings with government officials.

The push to be involved in the global healthcare market is well under way. Private companies dominate the list of firms put forward by Healthcare UK to operate in China and the contracts won.

The NHS is staring into the barrel of the Health and Social Care Act legislative gun, weighed down by debt and deliberate underfunding. The idea that an overstretched NHS can compete financially or even manage to operate an international trade arm is highly questionable. Healthcare UK appears as yet another government vehicle designed for the market over that of the NHS that has very little intention to benefit patients.

When the government announced the Chinese deal, the NHS was not
mentioned in their press release and based on the contracts won and the money gained so far, the NHS will be but a minor beneficiary of the global expansion that markets in their name.

Appendix 1

The five areas of cooperation listed in the agreement with Zhejiang MOU are:

Digital healthcare – Multiple commercial companies providing telehealth, telecare technology
Healthcare training and education – this could be NHS but majority of organisations mentioned in the Healthcare UK publication ‘China and the UK: partners in healthcare' are private
Hospitals: Planning, design, built management equipment – KPMG (business consultants), Arup (design, contractors)
Care for the elderly - Circle
Primary healthcare including implementing a GP system - Circle

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Case of Baroness Barker - Two bills -Two Opportunities

Please supply your evidence that the individuals named below have furthered their own interests. Please supply as much detail as you have. Thank you, Liz Barker”

The Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Barker wrote these words after she and all her fellow peers had received a list of parliamentarians and their financial links to companies and individuals involved in healthcare.

The list of over 200 parliamentarians had proved annoying to the Baroness, especially because at the time, they were all debating, amending and voting on the bill to help it become an Act.

One month after the legislation gained Royal Ascent, the Baroness
incorporated a consultancy company, which she co-owns and that works with the third sector to assist in their quest for NHS contracts.

The company, Barker & Woodward Consultancy Limited offers advice to third sector organisations through a two-day course called the “the right prescription”. This service offers information on how ‘third sector organisations can constructively work for the NHS’ and
advice about ‘competitors and development of strategic partnerships.’

The “right prescription” can
cost up to £400, which fits into Ms Barker’s personal request that we supply ‘as much detail’ that we have that ‘individuals’ have ‘furthered their own interests’.

Baroness Barker was the
Spokesperson on Health for the Liberal Democrats up until 2010 and has since remained a member of their Health and Social Care Team. She herself debated, made multiple key amendments and voted on the Health and Social Care bill, helping it become an Act.

One of the amendments drafted by Ms Barker during the Health bill progress, was in the area of conflicts of interests. It
read "CCGs must make arrangements for managing conflicts and potential conflicts of interest in such a way as to ensure that they do not, and do not appear to, affect the integrity of the group's decision-making processes". She concluded “It is extremely important that these groups not only set out to uphold the highest standards but that they are seen to uphold them.”

The ability to see into the future is a skill all good entrepreneurs’ must have, but perhaps when you are producing the legislation, it is easier to know what lies ahead. One month after today’s Care bill hearing, Ms Barker’s company is offering a briefing on its content in exchange for money to the third sector.

The third sector is playing a key role in the dismantling of the NHS, acting as a Trojan horse to allow private healthcare companies to come in and take over the running of services. They lobbied alongside private health for Jeremy Hunt to not water down privatisation regulations, they lied when they said they were neutral over the outcome of the Health bill, and their Chief Executive acted as a handy inside man at a critical moment in the health bill’s progress. The reward for the third sector has been 70% of all NHS contracts awarded since the implementation of the Health Act, have gone to private firms.

The Code of conduct that all Members sign up to states that ‘Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.’

The loop-hole that allows Members of both Houses to vote on legislation when they have a financial interest is ridiculous. Now Ms Barker is about to vote on the Care bill, helping it to become an Act and then one month later gain revenue from imparting that information.

Local councillors must abide by a stricter regime, which is imposed on them by parliament. If they have a financial or non-financial interest, then they must neither ‘participate in any discussion of the matter at the meeting’ nor ‘participate in any vote, or further vote.’

Currently the government has no intention to reform the rules that govern their own working life. In response to a petition placed on the No10 website that demanded ‘No member of Parliament may speak or vote in a debate on legislation which could financially benefit any commercial operation in which they have a financial interest’, they replied that it would “not be practical” to introduce any curbs to such behaviour because a “significant number of legislative provisions in any year may have beneficial financial implications for all or most commercial operations.”


See the latest list of parliamentary recent or present financial interests to healthcare here.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Welcome to the House of Circle

Nick Seddon formerly of Circle
The recent speech by the government plant in the Care Quality Commission, David Prior, has called for NHS Trusts who have fallen into financial difficulty to be taken over by European or American ‘Hospital Chains’. 

Such a move would present new opportunities to Circle Health, the first company to takeover the running of a NHS hospital and a company that is embedded into the highest areas of government influence. Not only is a former  Circle employee writing the health policy for No10, but another of their former staff is health adviser to Jeremy Hunt. If you add the donations ending up in the local office of the policy unit head, then you could say No10 is now the House of Circle.

A secret plan to hand over NHS hospitals to foreign companies was initially exposed by the transparency campaigners, Spinwatch in 2011. A Freedom of Information release unearthed communications between management consultancy firm McKinsey and the Department of Health, which revealed how over 20 NHS hospitals should be taken over by foreign firms. This process should be done with a “mindset of one at a time…because of various political constraints associated with privatisation.”

In David Prior’s speech made at a health seminar in London last week, the former Conservative Chief Executive cited the private hospital company, Circle, who took over the running of Hitchingbrooke hospital back in 2011, as being a model that could be followed for such a process.

This sentiment was one that was shared by fellow Conservative MP Mark Simmonds who landed his role as strategic adviser to Circle in December 2010. This new position was taken up just five months after he had finished his role as Shadow Health Secretary. The blog ‘NHS Vault’ revealed that within a report written by the Hitchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust Chief Executive's & Franchise Representatives, Simmonds visited the hospital in July 2012 and told those in attendance, “In this hospital you can change the way the NHS works, in my view for the better, you are at the frontier of the way healthcare is going to be provided in the future.”

The support of Circle within government is also supported by their presence in the heart of government policy. Nick Seddon, is a former Head of Communications for Circle, who moved to the free market think tank Reform as deputy director. Reform are heavily funded by private healthcare, which includes private hospital groups.

Whilst at Reform, Seddon was highly active lobbying alongside private healthcare to ensure competition remained int he Health and Social care bill. In addition, he called for an increase in private companies taking over NHS hospitals, which was part of a campaign by Reform backed by the Telegraph who helped promote Circle's model.  David Cameron, who had said lobbying would be the 'next big scandal' decided to hand a healthcare lobbyist a role in the health policy unit at No10.

This is not the only influence Circle have in the echelons of government health policy. Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt chose to hire Christina Robinson, another former Head of Communications at Circle as his special adviser.

The direction of where health policy is going couldn’t be clearer, but it isn’t just there where Circle has representation in government policy. Conservative MP for Orpington Jo Johnson, was made head of the No10 Policy unit leading up until the next general election. His constituency office received £6,000 just after the election, in July 2010, from Robin Crispin Odey a major investor in Circle.

Robin Odey, whose asset management company is based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands has given the Conservative party £251,000 – some of which has ended up in local constituencies.

Incidentally, all the MPs listed below who have been in receipt of donations from Mr Odey, were able to vote on the recent amendment to the Care bill that allows Jeremy Hunt to close or downgrade hospitals.

As if this wasn’t enough, Conservative peer Baron Higgins of Worthing holds in excess of £50,000 worth of shares in Lansdowne UK Equity Fund, another investor in Circle.

The House of Commons or rather, Circle and their external plants in organisations like the CQC are now calling for more private hospitals to be handed out to foreign companies. Circle will be delighted to hear such news, who currently remain in the running for another takeover of a NHS hospital in Nuneaton alongside Care UK.

The government (House of Circle) treats the electorate with contempt and here is why.

They plan policy in secret with management consultancy companies who themselves have private healthcare clients and with whom they share information.

Corporate lobby groups such as Reform, who help write their policy, are masquerading as charitable think tanks to push policy that opens revenues for their corporate backers.

Cameron choose to hire a corporate lobbyist into his policy unit.

The rules are not fit for purpose
MPs who through their constituency offices are in receipt of money from an investor in Circle, and were allowed to vote on a clause that will allow the closure and downgrading of NHS hospitals.

The MPs who have received funds from Robin Crispin Odey and voted on Clause 119 - the hospital closure clause: Source - Electoral Commission

GRAHAM, Richard, Mr - Gloucester - His constituency office received £3,000 from Circle investor, Mr Robin Crispin Odey on 03/12/2007. Richard Graham was elected MP for Gloucester at the last general election and like Odey has previously worked for Barings bank, which went bust in 1995. Vote on Clause 119.

HARPER, Mark, Mr - Forest of dean: Electoral commission records show his constituency office received £5,000 on 09/02/2010 from Circle investor Mr Robin Crispin Odey just 3 months before the general election. Vote on Clause 119.

JOHNSON, Joseph - Orpington. According to the electoral Commission - the brother of Boris Johnson's constituency office received £6,000 on 19th July 2010, to his constituency office from Robin Crispin Odey an investor in circle who run Hitchingbrooke hospital. He now sits in the No10 policy adviser unit. Vote on Clause 119.

KWARTENG, Kwasi, Mr - Worked for Odey Asset Management hedge fund as an analyst who invest in Circle health who run the Hitchingbrooke hospital. The hedge fund is run by Robin Crispin William Odey who has donated to the Conservative party since 2007. Mr Kwateng's constituency office received £10,000 from Odey Asset Management on 12th September 2011 for consultancy work for political advice to asset managers, which included ‘domestic affairs’. Vote on Clause 119.
NORMAN, Jesse, Mr - Hereford and South Herefordshire. According to the Electoral Commission, Mr Norman's office received £5,000 on 30th June 2009 from Circle healthcare investor Crispin Odey to his local Hereford constituency. Vote on Clause 119.

REES-MOGG, Jacob, Mr - MP for North-East Somerset - According to the electoral Commission, his office received £2,000 to his constituency office on the 14th April, 2010 from Mr Robin Crispin Odey, a hedge funder who has invested in Circle healthcare. Vote on Clause 119.

SOAMES, Nicholas, Hon - According to the electoral Commission, his office received £2,000 on 11th May 2010, from Crispin Odey who is an investor of Circle Health. Vote for Clause 119.

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Friday, 31 August 2012

Attacks on the NHS article roundup

This is the second time I have compiled a list of some of the articles I have put on here. The last time was June so I thought it was time for the next one.

For the June list please see here.

These last two months have seen a slight change in direction from specific MPs to the process of manipulation during the Health bill ‘pause’. In addition the research into the parliamentarian links was wrapped up revealing 60 MPs with financial links to companies involved in private healthcare, bringing the total of all parliamentarians with these links to 200.

I hope you find the list interesting and useful.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Special Report | Selling the NHS: how parliament and the healthcare industry got cosy

In a hard-hitting investigative exposé, Dylan Weber examines the network of vested interests that runs between Parliament and the private healthcare industry. This cosy, toxic relationship, he warns, threatens not only the future of the NHS but that of democracy in the UK. This article appeared in Ceasefire magazine.

As the Lords and Baronesses of the UK’s parliamentary chamber debated the government’s Health and Social Care bill, it was revealed by the Daily Mirror that 40 of these Peers had financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare. This number, though shocking, was just the tip of the iceberg. Further research revealed the true extent of the financial interests the unelected Peers of the House of Lords had in passing the Health and Social Care bill.

Carrying the Mirror’s research further, we at Social Investigations, went through the Lords’ register of interests with a fine tooth comb. In total, an extraordinary142 Peers were found to have financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare. These interests are, however, not the exclusive domain of a single party, but highlight self-interest that is endemic within every major party of every political persuasion, raising the question: Who are they actually serving?

In total 1 in 4 Conservative Peers were found to have these vested interests. The Labour Party had a total of 1 in 6, a number equalled by the Crossbench Peers, and the Liberal Democrat Peers, the coalition’s willing partners in passing the bill, had a total of 1 in 10 with such interests.

So what of these connections?

The mixture of the Peers’ financial interest and involvement varies. Some MPs have shares in healthcare companies set to benefit from the bill’s passing. Some are chairmen, partners, consultants, or are acting as senior advisers to investment groups funding the private companies, such as private equity firms, ready to swoop.

These interests, although indicative of where their priorities lie, would be less influential if the Peers were prevented from voting when they have a conflict of interest. At local government level, such conflicts come under a ruling of ‘prejudicial interest’, which requires the councillor to leave the room and take no further part in discussions or voting. No such safeguard exists in the House of Lords.

The subject of voting with conflicts of interest was put to the Peers after Social Investigations emailed all 142 with financial interests.

The email stated:

It is obvious that with these vested interests there is a conflict of interest and many who have seen this list are quite frankly shocked that this situation exists whereby those with vested interests can and are voting in favour of policies which could benefit those interests through the promotion of the further privatisation of the NHS.

The response was notable in its silence, except for a single reply from Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Barker, who ignored the issue of interests and simply stated:

Please supply your evidence that any of the people named below…have failed to declare their interests as they are required to do. Please supply your evidence that the individuals named below have furthered their own interests. Please supply as much detail as you have.’ 
Apparently a list of 142 Peers who have financial connections to private healthcare companies and are taking part in a bill that will hand more opportunities to private healthcare is not ‘evidence’ enough; but of course, by evidence, she means evidence that the Peers are not abiding by the existing rules, which simply require them to declare their interests, but do not prevent them from voting on issues that may directly benefit those interests. There is as of now no mention of preventing these conflicts of interest in the House of Lords reforms currently being put forward by the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Lord Popat
Take Lord Popat, a nursing and care home tycoon who has given the Conservatives a total of £319,641. The Ugandan-born dad-of-three has amassed an estimated £42million fortune as founder and chief of TLC Group, which provides services for the elderly. Prime Minister Cameron made the businessman a Peer shortly after entering No10 in May 2010. Lord Popat’s donations include a £25,000 gift registered a week after the Conservatives health reforms were unveiled in July last year.

This blatant money for power behaviour is matched by the actions of another Conservative Peer Lord Chadlington, who has been in the House of Lords since 1996. Lord Chadlington is the founder and chairman of a PR and communications company called Huntsworth plc. One arm of the group is Huntsworth Health, which operates globally, and here in the UK. Its website states that the company ‘provides a full continuum of consulting and communications services to the healthcare and well-being industry.’
In the same month as the white paper was released, Huntsworth Health acquired healthcare communications agency, ScopeMedical for £4.6m, thus expanding its health division. Lord Chadlington said of the takeover: “We are delighted to announce the acquisition…Healthcare is a major growth area and we are now very well positioned to take advantage of that growth.’

Not only do they have Lord Chadlington as their CEO, but up until last year, they also had Labour Peer Lord Puttnam as a Director, and from 2001-03 Conservative Peer Baroness Cumberlege was one of their non-executive directors. If that’s not enough, they have some finance provided via Liberal Democrat Lord Alliance, who has shares in the company, making four Lords, from three main parties, working for one company.

Huntsworth plc gave £15,500 to the Conservative party in August last year and has given money every year since 2008. Lord Chadlington and his wife have personally given more than £20,000 to the local party since 2007, including a sum of £10,000 for his leadership campaign. All within the rules that make it almost impossible to prove their actions will exclusively benefit his company. This ‘exclusivity’ part of the rules, is an important word, as found out when a complaint was put to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards about Lord Chadlington, his company and its connections to the government and their Health and Social Care bill.

The response stated: ‘You have not supplied any evidence to suggest that any of Lord Chadlington’s votes in connection with this Bill, were designed to confer exclusive benefit on, as you suggest, Huntsworth plc.’

Why do so many companies ask Lords to sit on their boards, become chairman and advisors if it isn’t to access the highest levels of government and acquire an exclusive benefit?

However, private companies don’t just rely on a vote to get want they want; they want to be where the centre for information is too. The Associate Parliamentary Health Group (APHG), which was launched in November 2001 was set up with the intention to provide: ‘information with balance and impartiality on local as well as national matters, and is recognised as one of the preferred sources of information on health in Parliament.’ 
Four key members of the APHG have financial links to companies involved in private healthcare. The Chair of the APGH is Baroness Cumberlege, who runs a company called Cumberlege Connections. Her company is involved in running training programmes for medical staff, but also covers the topic of ‘Politics, Power and Persuasion, in a tailored two-day programme which includes topics such as: ‘Managing the markets, the challenges of commissioning’, ‘who’s who’, and ‘brokering deals with other independent sector providers’; the latter programme is delivered by the Baroness herself.

In 2009, following a complaint from transparency campaigners Spinwatch, the Baroness was forced to admit that she had run her business from the House of Lords until it “took off”, and failed to declare her company’s interests in any debates. The disciplinary action involved nothing more than having to make an apology.

One of the key areas of the Health and Social Care bill involves handing over the purchasing power for services from Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), who were previously in charge of this, to local Commissioning Groups led by Doctors. In order to get these new Groups into a position where they can carry out the complicated duties of commissioning, a collection of ‘Approved Providers’ were formed to be part of a national framework from which the GP groups had to choose from. It is here that private business has already been making money from the reforms. The partnerships are largely made up of private companies, who bid for contracts to develop the new GP groups. Baroness Cumberlege placed her company into one of these Alliances led by management consultancy company PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were bidding for and winning contracts as she debated and voted on the bill, helping it pass into Act.
Another member of the APHG Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, acts as the groups’ treasurer and has received payment from Baroness Cumberlege for work as a trainer and consultant. His input makes up one of five Peers and four MPs who have worked for her company. Lord Harris of Haringey who is listed as an APHG advisor, has also been remunerated by Cumberlege Connections for ‘occasional participation in training events.’ In addition, he is a senior adviser to business services giant KPMG, who are one of the ‘approved providers’, winning contracts for the new commissioning groups.

Mark Britnell, head of global finance giant KPMG’s health division and an advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron had announced in a healthcare industry conference in 2010 that the NHS would be shown ‘No mercy.’ Adding: “…and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.” A rather harsh choice of words for someone who was employed by the NHS for over a decade.

Finally, Conservative MP Mark Simmonds, who acts as Co-chair to Baroness Cumberlege on the parliamentary group, is paid £50,000 a year for 10 hours a month as a strategic advisor to Circle Health, the first firm to win control of an NHS hospital. The former shadow minister for health recently had to apologise to the House of Commons, for ‘inadvertently’ failing to declare his interest when talking in favour of the NHS reforms. Circle has connections to Health Secretary and the architect of the Health and Social care bill, Andrew Lansley. Christina Lineen spent two years as an aide to Mr Lansley prior to moving to Circle as head of communications.

In addition to the leading roles played by these parliamentarian’s, the APGH has a list of external associate members, all private health companies, who attend occasional meetings with the Group. The list, which currently sits at twenty-three members, must pay a subscription fee to be involved. The amount of members allowed is capped at 26 and they become a member on a first come, first serve basis, which according to the manger of the parliamentary group Ella Jackson, is the fairest and ‘most transparent’ way to operate the membership system. That however, is where the transparency ends.

The rules of All-Party Groups demands a record be held of all meetings, and that each Group must keep sufficient records to enable it to prove that the group meets at least twice a year. The APGH according to their manager goes further than this, by ‘audio-recording’ every meeting it holds. The problem is, we the public aren’t allowed to hear these recordings, because the meetings are held under something called ‘Chatham House Rules’.

The Chatham House rule, which doesn’t have to be held in Chatham House to apply, was created back in 1927 and has since been refined in 1992 and 2002, and exists according to the Chatham House website; ‘to allow people to speak as individuals, and to express views that may not be those of their organisations.’ It adds: ‘People usually feel more relaxed if they don’t have to worry about their reputation or the implications if they are publicly quoted.’ This lack of transparency applies to the list of attendees too, where it is forbidden to mention who attended.
In amongst the list of companies paying their subscription are: Alliance boots, Astrazeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline; who all have Lords and or MPs with financial links to their company. Pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca has 9 Lords who are financially linked to them, including some who hold shares. GlaxoSmithKline has 17 Lords with shares in its company and Alliance Boots can boast having Lord Blyth as one of its former chairman, and former MP Patricia Hewitt, who took a consultancy job with them 7 months after standing down as an MP.

Ms Jackson of APGH explained: ‘It’s vital that parliamentarians and other speakers are able to speak freely in an open and frank exchange, without fear of having their thoughts reported out of context.’ What could both Peers and MPs with private healthcare interests and private healthcare companies be talking about that requires such secrecy? Why invoke a rule created over 80-years ago that prevents members of the public knowing who was in attendance and what was said?

The Health and Social care bill is now an Act; the companies who have lobbied for the NHS to be privatised have taken one giant leap into its eventual dismantling. The openness, with which money is given to politicians through donations, highlights an assumption that such behaviour is acceptable. Baroness Barker’s response doesn’t question that 142 Lords having financial connections to private healthcare as a problem; but merely points out the technical rules have been followed.

Our politicians sit on the boards, they own the companies, they are the directors, and they are indefinable from one another. The Labour party has promised to repeal the bill, but as election time comes, will those Labour Lords and MPs with interests in private healthcare, work behind the scenes to water down any changes? What of the future? So long as Lords and MPs are allowed to vote on bills that are directly linked to companies they have a financial interest in, then they will always be open to representing the corporations for whom they work. They are meant to be public servants, yet the evidence points towards them serving another element of society, one that is hidden behind corporate confidentially and ‘Chatham House’ rules.

Our democracy is under threat and our parliamentarians are all in this together, and at the very least should be barred from voting when a prejudicial conflict of interest appears. Until then, such behaviour will continue and unelected corporations will continue to hold the reins of power.

Sign the petition below to try and stop the Lords from being allowed to vote with conflicts of interest 

Please also check out this excellent MediaLens alert on the subject.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

One in Six Labour Peers have financial interests in companies involved in Private Healthcare

If the Labour party are to make sure they are in a stronger position to criticise the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over healthcare privatisation, then they need to have a word with some of their own Peers before the election.

In the last piece of research into peers of all parties, Social Investigations can reveal that amongst the Labour party, 37 out of 238 Lords have financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare. This represents 15% of the total, which amounts to 1 in 6, which is the same percentage as the Crossbench Peers; less than the Conservatives, but more than the Liberal Democrats.

The party, which moved to the right under Tony Blair, is in no position to thrown stones. As with all the other parties, the connections vary. Some have shares in companies; others are directors, advisors or chairman. Some of the peers work for a Conservative peer owned company, just like a Liberal Democrat peer has shares in a Conservative owned party.

Labour has promised to repeal the bill, if that is so, then great, but how many of their own Peers will be that keen to do so on this list? Although they towed the party line on this occasion, will some of them be internally negotiating to water down any changes if Labour gets back into power?

An e-petition has been set up which is here - - if you can please sign it to stop Lords voting on their own interests, this would go some way to prevent their behaviour.

Labour Lords

1. Baroness Billingham: Regular contributions to Cumberlege Connections a training company for training NHS personnel and is a political networking firm that works "extensively" with the pharmaceutical industry.

2. Lord Carter: The head of the increasingly influential Competition and Cooperation Panel, is an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm with significant investments in the healthcare industry. Chairman Patrick Carter, or Lord Carter of Coles to give him his full title, was the founder of Westminster Health Care, a leading private nursing home company. He is also the Chair of McKesson Information Solutions Ltd, which delivers IT to “virtually every NHS organisation”, the chair of Primary Group Ltd, a Bermudan based private equity company, and a substantial shareholder in, among other companies, B-Plan Information Systems Ltd, which has also benefited from the increased need for large scale IT systems that the introduction of an internal market to the NHS has brought with it (see the interview with Frank Wood, of King’s foundation trust, where B-Plan has worked, in the last news update). Carter’s register of interests in the House of Lords also lists him as an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm, which has significant investments in the healthcare industry. It even rescued United Healthcare from financial ruin in 1987 and helped it to become one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. He can now help it to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s reforms. -

3. Viscount Chandos: Director of investment management company Sand Eire limited - who invest amongst other sectors, in Healthcare. 

4. Lord Darzi: Former surgeon drafted into government as a health minister by Gordon Brown when he was PM. Now an adviser to medical technology firm GE Healthcare.

Quotes on bill: he would find it 'difficult at this stage' to vote for blocking the Bill...'I am speaking as a surgeon, not a politician.'

5. Lord Davies of Abersoch: A non-executive Director of Diageo. Lansley used to hold a directorship at Profero who had Diageo as one of their clients. Diageo plc are an alcohol drinks company who have been awarded money to teach midwives in England and Wales on the dangers of alcohol. Vice Chairman and partner in Corsair Capital llc, who have amongst others Axis Capital holdings in their portfolio, providers of healthcare insurance products. Shares in HSBC who are heavily involved in PFI hospitals. 

6. Lord Eatwell: Economic Adviser at Warburg Pincus & Co International Ltd, a private equity firm with significant investments in the healthcare industry. Economic advisor to Palamon Capital Partners LLP, who also heavily invest in private healthcare.

7. Lord Elder: Advisor to pharmaceutical company Daval International Ltd

8. Lord Evans of Watford: Director of ­healthcare property firm Care Capital.

9. Lord Filkin: Adviser to outsourcing giant Serco, heavily involved in NHS services.

10. Baroness Ford: Chairman of private healthcare company, Barchester Healthcare Ltd. Part of the NHS Partners Network. Chairman of Grove Ltd, a holding company for for Barchester Health.  

11. Lord Gavron: Has shares in Serco, Smith & Nephew plc, Diageo, Unilever, Astrazeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Rhoen-Klinikum AG (private healthcare), Roche Holdings AG, Fresenius Medical Care AG, Sanofi-Aventis, Vodaphone Group plc, Prudential Life.  

12. Lord Goldsmith: Partner in International law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, whose clients includeBayer; Bristol Myers Squibb; Forest Laboratories; Galderma; GlaxoSmithKline; Hisamitsu; Johnson & Johnson; Merck; Nestlé; Novartis; L’Oréal; Pfizer; Schering-Plough; and Tenet Healthcare, among others.'

13. Lord Grocott: Trainer at Cumberlege Connections Ltd: (See Baroness Cumberlege).

14. Lord Harris of Haringey: Former senior adviser to business services giant KPMG, who are heavily involved in implementing changes in the NHS and its commissioning groups Wyeth Pharmaceuticals 2001. Remunerated by Cumberlege Connections Ltd for occasional participation in training events. See Baroness Cumberlege. One client Airwave through his own company Toby harris Associates provides services to Ambulance and health.

15. Lord Hollick: Has shares in multiple companies involved in healthcare, which include: Diageo, Ambea, HCA, Capsugel.  

16. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Consultant and Trainer at Cumberlege Connections Ltd: See Baroness Cumberlege.

Lord Hutton of FurnessEx-health minister is an adviser to law firm Eversheds. Clients include care homes and private hospitals.

17. Baroness Jay: Occasional participation in seminars for Cumberlege Connections.  Company that is a training company NHS personnel and a political networking firm that works "extensively" with the pharmaceutical industry. 

18. Lord Kestenbaum: Member of the board of directors of marketing agency Profero. Andrew Lansley was a director of Profero until the end of 2009. Diageo an alcohol company was one of their clients which went onto to be awarded a contract to talk about alcohol to midwives so that they can advise Mothers. Profero have contributed to the NHS Change4Life campaign to get more people to exercise.

19. Baroness Kingsmill: Non-executive director of Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruitment firm. Among the diverse range of healthcare organisations they have secured and developed top healthcare executives for are in hospital systems, multi-specialty physician practices, pharmacy benefit management companies, long-term care/assisted-living companies, home health companies, healthcare associations, and other service delivery companies. Two other peers work for them. Deputy Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which claims to have “been at the heart of shaping ­[healthcare] reforms and working with clients to respond to the opportunities they present”. 

20. Lord Leitch: Bupa chairman. Non Exec director of Bupa.

21. Baroness Liddell: Associate member of Bupa

22. Lord McConnellof Glenscorrodale: Member of the advisory board to accountants and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. See Baroness Kingsmill.

23. Baroness McDonagh: Non Executive Director of Standard Life plc, which offers private health insurance.

24. Baroness Mallalieu: Has shares in Diageo (See Andrew Lansley), and pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser. Shares in Oryx International a closed-end investment company incorporated in Guernsey, which invests in healthcare. 

25. Lord Malloch-Brown: Chairman of FTI Global Affairs an advisory firm, which helps companies in the healthcare sector amongst others. On his appointment in 2010 he said: "Lord Malloch-Brown said, "The global economy has reached a tipping point, with Western companies under great pressure to shift their footprint towards emerging markets."

26. Lord Mandelson: Senior Advisor at Lazard Ltd, an international advisory investment bank, which includes the area of healthcare.

27. Lord Moonie: Advisor for Edinburgh-based healthcare and biosecurity company Americum. Former senior advisor to pharmaceutical company Pharmathene Ltd. Lord Moonie, previously accused in cash for influence scandal.

28. Baroness Morgan of Huyton: Ex-director of failed care home firm Southern Cross. Member of the advisory Committee board for Virgin Group Holdings Ltd.

29. Lord Myners: Non-Executive Director of RIT Capital partners plc, who according to their annual report invest extensively in healthcare. Also has shares in company.

30. Lord Noon: Director of Nutrahealth plc is a holding company which is 100% owned subsidiary of Elder Pharmaceuticals Ltd, an Indian based healthcare company since November 2010. The businesses operated in the UK are Biocare, Brunel Health and Totally Nourish.  Shares in Casualty Plus Ltd - private walk-in clinic.

31. Lord Prescott Fee received from Civica plc (25 January 2012) as payment for taking part in a panel discussion at a conference hosted by Civica at the Manchester International Conference Centre, Manchester; travel expenses were also paid for by Civica plc

More than 70 NHS Commissioners use Civica Health & Social Care's industry standard SLAM NHS Commissioning software to help manage service level agreements with providers, including Payment by Results, local tariffs, local agreements, block payments and other variants.

32. Lord Puttnam: Director of Huntsworth communications group. global public relations and integrated healthcare communications group. Did not stand for the board this year (2012). Deputy chair of Profero (See Andrew Lansley). Senior Non-executive director of Promethean World plc a technological hardware company, which according to its annual reports a new division was created, which amongst other sectors included healthcare. 

33. Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Has shares in multiple companies involved in private healthcare including: Becton Dickinson, Hospira Inc, Vodafone plc (See Baroness James), JP Morgan (See Lord Renwick), Quest Diagnostics Inc, Johnson & Johnson.

34. Lord Sawyer: Chair of Norlife, part of a government led initiative called LIFT, set up as a partnership project in the county of Norfolk creating in part PFI projects.

35. Lord Simpson: Shares in multiple healthcare companies including Reckitt Benckiser, Standard Chartered Bank plc, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone plc.
36. Lord Sugar: Amscreen Plc is part of Lord Sugar’s Amshold Group of companies, which he owns. The company provides T.V screens into places where there is a captive audience and places targeted marketing alongside the other content the organisation may use. These screens are placed in GP surgeries, hospitals and dentists throughout the UK and in Europe.

Amscreen and BMI Healthcare have a contract together to sponsor live weather feeds to advise patients on their ‘healthcare choice’. This sponsorship deal will reach 3 million patients across the Amscreen network. Nigel Moon, Head of Marketing at BMI Healthcare has said “This advertising and sponsorship package provides us with a great opportunity to feature BMI Healthcare, our local hospitals and services to a highly targeted audience at a key time in the patient journey.” BMI Healthcare joins other leading brands such as Unilever, GSK and Pfizer who are able to reach captive audiences in GP surgeries across the healthcare network.

Now Lord Sugar’s son who runs Amscreen has teamed up with a face recognition company called Quividi. This technology will be able to ‘determine the gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers.’ This according to Lord Sugar’s son said “brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are, too.” Maybe the public deserves to know who is monitoring them, and what is happening to this data. Maybe the public deserves to be able to go to the GP surgery and not be a target for advertisers.

Viglen Ltd – shares – company provides I.T. services to the NHS. supplying over 45 central and local government councils, including a number of NHS and local education authorities, just under 70,000 computers over the next two years.

Donated £333,650.84 to Labour party

37. Baroness Symans of Vernham Dean: International consultant for legal firm DLA Piper a global law firm providing lobbying services to “clients in the health and social care sectors”. DLA Piper counts Southern Cross amongst its clients and advised on the failed £12 billion NHS I.T. project.

38. Lord Warner: Former adviser to Apax Partners, one of the leading global investors in the healthcare sector. Current director of Sage Advice Ltd. Works as an adviser to Xansa, a technology firm, and Byotrol, an antimicrobial company, which both sell services or products to the NHS” and was “paid by DLA Piper, which advised ministers on the £12 billion IT project for the NHS” projects that he was responsible for when he was a government minister. Lord Warner explains his role here.