Wednesday, April 11, 2012

UK: 'Healthy competition’ in the NHS is a sick joke

Real health choice under the NHS reform Bill doesn't exist, and the so-called market is a mockery.

By Max Pemberton 
The Telegraph
April 9, 2012

Richard Branson and his daughter Holly: their family business is profiting from the sick - 'Healthy competition’ in the NHS is a sick joke
Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Photo: REX
On March 27 the NHS reform Bill – or to give it its official name, the Health and Social Care Bill – received Royal Assent and became law. With the ink barely dry on Her Majesty’s signature, the carving up of the NHS has begun. Virgin Care has won a £500 million contract to provide community services across Surrey and began running these services, as well as the county’s prison healthcare, on April 1.

This was no April Fool’s joke, though I had to smile at the thought of Virgin managing sexual health clinics. In reality, the joke may be on all of us, as Richard Branson’s company becomes one of the first of many vultures to start picking over the rich, tender flesh of the NHS now that it has been splayed open by the Bill.

His daughter, Holly Branson, was a few years below me at medical school. I remember thinking how good it was that someone steeped in privilege had seemingly decided to dedicate her life to serving other people. I had a vision – somewhat idealised, I know – of her working in the East End, providing care to the deprived and poverty-stricken. But no. After a brief stint as a junior doctor at a London hospital, she quit the NHS to work for her father. It saddens me to see someone who underwent the same training I did stand by as their family business profits from the sick and undermines the very institution that provided them with their education.

Richard Branson likes to be thought of as an affable, benign maverick, on his way to becoming a national treasure. He’s the cuddly face of corporate Britain. But just because he has a beard and looks like Noel Edmonds does not mean his multinational business is any less aggressive and expansionist than the next.

What the Virgin Care takeover in Surrey really exposes are the two fundamental lies that have been peddled by the Government over the past year in attempts to manage the PR disaster that was the NHS Reform Bill.

The first is the flat denial that the Bill represented any sort of privatisation of the NHS, despite it being obvious to anyone who read it that this is precisely what it was.

No comments:

Post a Comment