David Cameron has said he does not care about “taking a hit” on the government’s radical shake-up of the NHS in England, vowing there was no going back on the reforms.
I expect that the Conservatives and the ‘Liberal-Democrat’ Conservatives will take a hit over their destruction of the NHS. The public will side with health workers almost universally opposed to their viscious attack against lying politician scum with hidden vested interests.
The head of the NHS regulator that is meant to ensure fairness when private-sector firms bid for public contracts is also the chairman of a huge company whose Health Service business is worth £80 million a year – and set to increase massively.
As the chairman of the NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP), Lord Carter of Coles is paid £57,000 for two days’ work each week. But his other role, as chairman of the UK branch of the American healthcare firm McKesson, is more generously rewarded. Last year it paid him £799,000.
Even this is not the end of Lord Carter’s private healthcare interests. He is chairman of the Bermuda-registered Primary Group Ltd, a private-equity investment company that owns big slices of other healthcare firms.
And he is an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, another investment fund with large health interests. His income from these sources is not publicly disclosed.
The professional body for experts in diagnostic imaging of disease and injury, which includes cancer specialists, called on ministers to withdraw their plans for a radical shake-up of the NHS in England following a survey of its 8,800 membership.
The college said on Friday that a substantial majority – 76% of the 37% who voted – called for the bill to be abandoned rather than continue to press for amendments. Its announcement came a day after the British Medical Association warned that the government’s reform programme would cause irreparable damage to the relationships between doctors and patients and would irreversibly harm the NHS.
Jane Barrett, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: “The RCR has always had grave concerns about many aspects of the bill. We have sought, and, with others, attained many changes to the draft legislation. Despite those amendments, our concerns remain and we feel this move of position is necessary.”
The Department of Health had earlier refused a freedom of information request to publish the register, saying there is a stronger public interest in withholding the register from public scrutiny than in publishing it.
The department told the commissioner it must be able to use the register without fear the information will be put in the public domain “in an unmanaged way” while its policy continues to be developed.
The commissioner rejected those arguments and ordered the register be published.
On Monday, the Information Rights Tribunal will hear the Government’s appeal against the commissioner’s decision.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said it would be “completely misleading” to publish the register, which was put together before changes were made to the Bill and had been intended as an “internal mechanism”.
He said that, to be effective, a risk register requires all those involved to be frank and open about potential risk.
Labour argues that full disclosure is needed and local risk registers already show the scale of damage that could be done to the NHS by the Bill.
There are some possible indications for why Mr Lansley is so reluctant to publish the reports, as some leaked elements of the risk register are said to paint a damning picture of the affect his reforms will have on the health service. The Green Benches blog by Dr Eoin Clarke carries segments which are said to have come from the risk register, and his assessment is
‘The chief warning in the report is that Lansley’s reforms will spark a surge in health care costs and that the NHS will become unaffordable as private profiteers siphon off money for their own benefit. The report specifically warns that GPs have no experience or skills to manage costs effectively.’
The issue of costs is also raised in the NHS London’s Risk Assessment, which was published on its website, and warned that the reforms could lead to the financial ‘failure’ of some NHS organisations, worse care for patients, and threats to maternity services, children’s safety and public health.
Interestingly, these are the kinds of regional assessments which were sent to the Department of Health to make up Strategic Risk Register, which the department is unwilling to publish. Certainly, if that report came to similar conclusions, Andrew Lansley’s reluctance would be understandable.