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U.S. Companies Are Leading Bidders in British Health Service Sell-Off

Posted on Mar 19, 2015

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A leaked memo cited by a parliamentary candidate for the U.K. Labour Party details an effort to sell off cancer and end-of-life services relied on by some 3.8 million beneficiaries of the British National Health Service to private U.S. health care companies that will be free to restructure the services along lines of profitability rather than quality of care.

“There are lots of firsts here,” candidate Kate Godfrey, who received the confidential documents, writes at The Guardian:

It is the first time that cancer or end-of-life care has been contracted out. The first use of the prime provider model on anything like this scale. The first privatisation without formal consultation. The first huge international NHS contract that could fall under TTIP. Transfer these services out of the NHS now, and we may never get them back.

The leading bidders are all US private healthcare companies, some of them implicated in failures of care elsewhere. One is Optum, the US brand facing allegations over the American hospice-packing scandal. (Optum is defending itself against the allegations.) It is the first time that the commissioning responsibility held by local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – the right to spend a billion pounds on behalf of the NHS – will simply be gifted to a private company. ...

The winning bidder will be free to decommission or disinvest as they like – cutting contracts with local hospices, therapeutic providers or even frontline healthcare such as radiotherapy and surgery.

The bidder could simply replace them, delivering services such as radiotherapy themselves, further fragmenting the services that mean most to patients. Or they could just squeeze existing contracts. No payment structure is specified. Bidding companies can decide for themselves what they are worth, as long as their fees are self-funding within the current budget. Based on similar health privatisation contracts, £100m in fees is the minimum that a private provider will accept. This money will be diverted straight from funds currently spent on frontline care.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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