Monday, 24 June 2013

Communications reveal 2020 Health working with Lord Howe to make the NHS a"UK Plc Asset"

Documents released by the Department of Health under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a healthcare think tank with multiple links to coalition peers wants to turn the NHS into an “asset” of “UK Plc” - and which suggests the government needs to “charm” private healthcare “international corporations”

2020health calls itself an ”independent, grass roots think tank” whose purpose is to “create the conditions for a healthy society through research, evaluation, campaigning and relationships.

Correspondence between the health minister Earl Howe, former patron of 2020 Health, and the think tank’s founder Julia Manning reveals some of the nature of these ‘relationships’.

At Julia Manning’s invitation, Earl Howe was a guest speaker at a ‘high-level discussion breakfast roundtable’ with key clinical and industry leaders back in February 2011, during the ‘listening pause’ in the passage of the Health & Social Care Act through parliament. After the meeting, Ms Manning wrote to thank Earl Howe. In the letter, which has been obtained by Social Investigations, she noted that Earl Howe had told the meeting that the message of the UK health being open for business was “not getting through.”

Manning had asked what should be done to attract “global companies to the UK.” She pushed for a “radical message” to make the NHS part of the “UK PLC”, an “asset” and “driver of economic growth.”

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Earl Howe - A Former Patron of Pro-Market Health Think Tank

The Parliamentary Under secretary for Health Earl Howe, who led the Health and Social Care bill proceedings in the House of Lords, was listed as a patron for pro-market think tank 2020health, just before the elections.

Knowledge of the Earl’s patronage has only just appeared after the discovery of a policy paper written by 2020health for the Spanish right-wing publication ‘Sanifax.’ The ‘Dosier Especial’ titled ‘a healthier nation’, was a Green policy paper produced in January 2010 and introduced in Spanish as having been created with the ‘support of David Cameron’ on the ‘necessary reforms.’

Monday, 3 June 2013

Lobbygate: Milking the system

In 2009, the Rt Reverend and Crossbench Peer Lord Eames, was appointed as the head of a cross party review group to draw up new rules that would ban Lords from taking money from lobby firms to ask questions in parliament.

The rule change took place following allegations that four Labour Lords had offered to try and amend laws for up to £120,000. At the time, not only were there no rules to prevent such behaviour, but there was also no Commissioner for Standards to investigate wrongdoing.

Lord Eames concluded in a report that the rules needed to change, a commissioner for standards needed to be instated because “We need to restore public confidence in the House of Lords, and in the conduct of its members…There is no place in the House of Lords for 'peers for hire'." At least these two proposals were implemented, but the House of Lords has remained an open house to lobbyists.

Monday, 13 May 2013

"We can't go on like this" - Cameron Hires Lobbyist Into the Heart of Government

Number 10 today welcomes Nick Seddon, former lobbyist and private healthcare advocate, into Downing Street to lead on health policy formation. What does this say about Cameron’s real attitude to the lobbying game he has publicly decried? And what kind of policies will Seddon be pushing now? There are good reasons to be concerned.
before the general election, David Cameron declared his opposition to  lobbying, saying “we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisors for hire... It arouses people’s worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works, with money buying power, power fishing for money and a cosy club at the top making decisions in their own interest...We can't go on like this”

Today, Number 10 will welcome former lobbyist Nick Seddon into the heart of Downing Street, as his health adviser. Seddon’s last role was as deputy director of ‘Reform’ - a free market think tank extensively funded by healthcare and insurance companies. He has openly called for an end to the NHS as we know it, and promoted the idea of an insurance-based system.

Before joining Reform, Nick Seddon was head of communications at private healthcare company Circle - the first company to take over the running of a NHS hospital. 

His role during the passage of the Health and Social Care bill was to lobby key people to defend competition in the bill. His reward? A place in Cameron’s health policy unit,  developing  policies for the 2015 general election.