Thursday 26 April 2012

Letter sent to the BBC on NHS coverage

Dear Ms Boaden.

I am writing in relation to the BBC coverage of the NHS Health and Social Care bill, that has now become an Act.

As an organisation that has huge resources, I am curious to know whether you had thought to invest time and money into uncovering some of the vested interests of our parliamentarians in private health care?

As the Lords were sitting in the chamber debating the bill, I was unearthing and putting out the list of Lords and MPs who have these interests. The list went viral and although I accept you may personally have not seen the list, I am slightly aghast that the BBC didn't pick up on it, or think to make this connection yourselves.

The research found 142 Peers having financial connections to companies involved in private healthcare. The Conservative Lords have 1 in 4 with these conflicts of interest. Even now, despite the bill becoming an Act, this list represents a threat to our democracy and I alongside tens of thousands of others who have passed this around on twitter feel it must get some coverage. This list is not something of the past, but represents the present, and gives a glaring idea of why this bill was produced.

Furthermore, why, when Andrew Lansley has been outed as having been bankrolled by the chairman of CareUK, was this not raised with him whenever he spoke of the bill? Surely every reasoning he gave as a justification for the bill should be linked to his healthcare financial supporters. The coalition are littered with these connections, yet from the interviews and coverage the BBC has given, you would never guess this was the case. 

Is it not a dereliction of journalistic duty to allow Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary and author of the Health and Social Care bill, to repeat his various reasonings for the bill without constantly challenging him and his party's connections to the private healthcare industry?

Finally, i would be grateful if you could tell me if you think the matter of the Lords financial interests in Private Healthcare is now in your thoughts, and whether you will intend to highlight this in a future news item?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Andrew Robertson
Social Investigations


  1. Very good letter & I am glad you brought the situation about Care UK up, this is very important and relevant.
    I have a complaint with the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman against this Company. It took her 11 months to tell me She would not investigate them & I must take them to court (which I am unable to do). The whole thing stinks to high heaven frankly. The BBC's coverage is woefully inadequate on the NHS and opposition to the Welfare Bill. It's a disgrace.

  2. Just want to thank you for doing excellent work raising these issues. Be interested to see what reply you get. Its a disgrace that an organisation the size of the BBC isn't raising questions about this on a regular basis.

  3. Thank you. I agree, and I am still waiting for a reply. I will resend it in a few days time, and see what they say. Once they do, I will post it here.

  4. Hi Andrew,
    Was listening to Ed Milliband on the the 'Today'program last week where,among other things,he talked about the NHS.I got the impression that he didn't use the NHS,maybe using private healthcare[he was very quiet-silent on the HaSCB transition].
    It then struck me that apart from various members of the Labour party[who were deathly silent on the bill's transition]who introduced or enhanced private health care presence in the NHS and could not therefore talk without being compromised,it struck me that it is possible that a significant number of labour[cons and libdems]have private healthcare,which could be a contributing factor to the passage of the bill into law.
    The premise being that if mps have private healthcare,they are not in any kind of position to talk or defend the NHS,and that really a conspiracy of silence,where no mp of any party sticks their head above the trenches,makes sense,so that fingers will not be pointed and explanations demanded.
    Makes you wonder,yet again,are we all this in this together?
    I think this is likely.

  5. There is no doubt some MPs will have private health care. How do we find out? I guess we can just ask our individual MPs?

  6. Hi Andrew,
    Didn't mean to seem to be disruptive.I had complained to the BBC about their lack of reporting on the passage,the effects and the proponents of the Health Bill.It was gob-smacking.I've listened quite a lot to the R4 friday Feedback complaints program,and have been well impressed by how immune producers are to complaints and criticism.
    The Today interview with Milliband was a leader of the opposition thing and evan and him were getting down and comfortable.The Nhs part was very short,and was deeply immersed in the context of private health care,with Milliband saying when [new]Labour came to power in 1997,the NHS was a basketcase and an emergency service[he wasnt talking about how people I knew regarded it-it was saving lives and helping us],and then when they lost power,the NHS offered comparable services to the private sector.Bizarre.Then they moved on.Nothing said about how damaging the bill would be,no reference to the protests - stunning silence.The issue I was raising was that if milliband uses the private sector instead of the NHS,he just doesn't have a leg to stand on.
    Like when Diane Abbot sent her son to the private City of London School, which she herself described as "indefensible" and "intellectually incoherent".I dont think she has ever gained full credibility.
    That's 100% what Ed milliband's situation would have been,and any labour and liberal dems'position would have been who were using the private sector in preference to the NHS-if they had any shame.
    What sort of message would that have sent out?Just total humiliation and 100% discrediting and betraying their labour and liberal political credentials and principle.
    I think that's a contributing factor as to why the Bill got through.Of course the many lords and politicians with vested interests in private healthcare,which you have so laudably uncovered and identified,who corrupted the proceedings,were so instrumental through their choice to represent their self-interest,and their employers' interest instead of the electorate,in the passing of the Bill into law.
    Some law when vested interests are such a significant and known factor in it's passing.
    It makes the law a product of corruption.
    How Shameful.
    So brazen and shameless.
    But we know how the tories view the law now with their behaviour/veto over the publication of the risk register.
    They just ignore it
    Ordinary people would feel shame,but not the elected and ennobled.They're beyond that.They serve themselves,and help themselves to what's available,trotters planted firmly under the trough.

  7. It would indeed be a betrayal, and not least because, and if it were the case that he has private healthcare, then this would mean the opposition is weakened. Silence would come, when condemning is required. I remember Diane Abbots story and that is exactly right, her credibility never returned properly. How can it. Unfortunately this is the problem with Labour, they continually offer hope in opposition, but if we peel back the layers...we see little difference. In some cases I feel as if people are afraid to unearth certain things about Labour because it would strengthen the coalition potentially and no-one wants that. Yet, in the long run this is bad for the overall democracy. What are people like Lord sugar doing in the Labour party? What are they doing being parliamentarians?

    The BBC certainly failed, they failed to challenge Lansley on his interests properly, and failed to unearth the extent of the links to private healthcare. When people complain, they have a habit of saying sorry you're not happy, but we have covered this and that, and we're not really sorry because you are wrong actually. At least that is what I am reading between the lines of the complaints people have sent.

    1. I agree with all you say Andrew.
      It strikes me that if a democracy stays intact by hiding things,then it's over.It just remains to switch the life support off,bury the corpse.
      What's actually needed is politicians who sink or swim on their policies,on their words,on their actions,where integrity and public service are really the core value,
      To nail their flags here.
      Not their wallets.
      Not to use their policies,words and action to corruptly serve shadowy,nefarious,non-elected interests.
      What is politics without integrity and public service?
      I think the present status quo gives a good idea.
      If faith is to be restored in politics,hiding is not going to cut it.If Milliband thinks he's going to change things,and hide stuff,it'll not happen.He'll just become A.N.Other.
      He,or someone,needs to break the mould.Do what's right,do what's practical,do what's needed,and be upfront and straight about it.
      If they fail,it'll not be because of corruption or carelessness or meglomania.At least they'll be able to look their sons,daughters,wives,husbands,family,friends,neighbours in the eye.Unlike a lot of the present crowd who must have no shame and /or think their nearest and dearest are fools or deluded.I dont know what sort of rational they use to pull the wool over their eyes,to blunt such obvious public disgust.Maybe they dont care.
      Maybe that's why this corruption takes place.They are able to dissociate from the effects and public perception of their acts,even when corruption is so obvious.
      I mean how is it allowed for mps/lords with clearly visible vested interests to vote on related issues.
      This is unacceptable.It's unbelievable.
      And then all this spin.Spinning lies out of facts.And lobbyists.More acceptable corruption.
      And of course,suppression and control the media.
      The electorate need protection from their elected,could be provided by a written constitution[!!!].
      Our democracy is in bad need of a heart transplant,and the attribute of public service re-invigorated/rediscovered.
      Public service really is badly needed,not faked to make corruption palatable

  8. Thanks for all the work on all our behalves .

    I waited & waited for the BBC radio to do a fair report on the NHS so finally phoned in & complained. A couple of days later on radio 4 I heard a slightly more detailed reporting/questioning , but it was so insipid that no-one would know what was really in the H&SC Bill. I should have phoned & complained again, but I was very busy & I guess naive .

    I emailed all the Lib Dem MPs & emailed those Lib Dem lords whose e-addresses I could find with info eg Prof Allyson Pollock findings; the Lord who was shown up for vested interests; ...... . Andrew George & Jenny Tonge & a lord were very pro our NHS & Charles Kennedy replied for the NHS, but as for Shirley Williams; Ming Campbell; Simon Hughes; Don Foster; Tom Brake; ......... . Many would only reply if I was their constituent . I got under the skin of Lord Nigel Jones (LD), who believed the Lib Dems own deceit !
    Someone emailed that Cleggy had assured the LD MPs that the Lords would send the H&SC Bill back with amendmenmts & it would get a thorough look at then , so he'd voted it through the 2nd reading !

    The London Health Emergency (web search them) are trying to pull people together to make it clear that there is outrage out here.


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