22nd April 2021
Dear Secretary of State
Privatisation of the NHS
I am writing to you as Secretary of State for Health to outline my concerns about the increased privatisation of NHS services. In particular, I am worried about the potential takeover of local GP services in my constituency to private American companies such as Centene.
I am sure you are aware of EDM (Early Day Motion) 1628 signed by 72 members raising concern about 49 GP surgeries across London that have been taken over by Operose, a subsidiary of the US company Centene. Whilst my responsibilities as a shadow minister stop me from signing EDM’s I share the concerns it outlines.
The NHS is valued across the country because it provides free healthcare at the point of delivery regardless of the ability to pay. This has been highlighted superbly during the coronavirus pandemic where NHS staff have worked tirelessly, often with some personal risk, to ensure coronavirus patients receive the care they need, whilst continuing to offer its normal outstanding service to other patients.
Unfortunately, the 2012 Health and Social Care Act has made it easier for private companies to run NHS services. This raises concerns about the ‘not for profit’ ethos of the NHS being eroded as private companies, by definition, will only want to run services if they can make a profit.
With private companies such as Operose now running GP surgeries across London I am concerned that their need to make a profit will lead to cost cutting, which could have a detrimental effect on the service provided to patients.
The NHS should remain a completely ‘non-profit’ organisation where patient care is the top priority and I fear that the increased marketisation of services, such as GP practices, will erode the quality of care. Linked to this I am worried about the increasing prospect of non-UK companies running NHS services because, they do not necessarily have a stake in the local communities where they are based and secondly, they may take any profits they make out of the UK.
I would, therefore, be most grateful if you could answer the following questions:
1) What is the evidence to support the policy of outsourcing NHS services to the private sector in terms of leading to better patient outcomes.
2) What safeguards are in place to ensure private sector providers do not lower the standard of care they provide to patients.
3) Can you ensure that NHS services will not be opened directly to foreign companies, as has been suggested with any potential US trade deal.
4) What assurances can you give that increased marketisation will not lead to an erosion of the ‘non for profit’ and ‘public service’ element of care provision.
I would like to thank you for your time and l look forward to receiving you reply concerning the points I have raised.