Thursday 19 April 2012

National Clinical Commissioning Conference Links Multiple Private Health Companies to Lords and MPs

A national conference for CCG leaders to air their ‘concerns’ over the implementation of clinical commissioning, is littered with companies who have financial links to Lords and MPs. The event, which is titled ‘Defining Our Future’, is sponsored by Capita, a private company winning contracts for developing the CCGs.  

The Capita partnership includes amongst it clients: Beachcroft, PHAST, NHS Alliance (Who are hosting the event), Foresight partnership, Ville & Company, and Penna.

Capita partner Beachcroft, is one of the largest commercial law firms in the UK and is widely regarded as the leading legal adviser to the health and social care sector. To their advantage, they have Lord Hunt of Wirral as a partner. In October 2008 when speaking in a healthcare debate in the Lords, the Peer stated: “A Bill is due to be introduced later this year which will attract considerable attention not only from within the NHS but from firms in the private health sector and from professional advisers.”

Lord Hunt is not alone in being involved in a company that has moved into a position where it can make money from the reforms; in which he voted; which he did in all the key areas of the debate as it passed through the House. Baroness Cumberlege positioned her company Cumberlege Connections, into an alliance led by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as she debated the merits of the bill in the House. The story of her involvement is well covered here.

Included in Beachcroft’s connections to power, is former Labour MP for Norwich South Charles Clarke, who was listed in the 2008 register of interests as a consultant to commercial firm Beachcroft LLP. When Mr Clarke was a sitting MP, he promoted the idea that the NHS should charge for 'peripheral treatments'. In 2008, he was also registered as a consultant to KPMG LLP, on the 'future of public service reform.' KPMG are heavily involved in implementing changes in the NHS and its commissioning groups.

Companies in the KPMG partnership with links to parliamentarians are UK law firm Morgan Cole, who have Conservative MEP Ashley Fox as their connection, who was an Associate to the company until 2009 when he was elected to the European Parliament. In addition, I.T. company McKesson
Information Solutions Ltd, have Lord Carter as their chairman. The Labour Peer is also the chairman of the NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP), a conflict of interest, which in a statement made by McKesson to the Guardian is avoided because he: "steps down from any investigation where there is potential conflict of interest.” 

So that’s alright then.

The list of companies in partnerships winning contracts to develop CCGs and having connections to Lords and MPs doesn’t end there. In 2008, Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle Gregory Baker, had shares in Penna plc, who deliver HR services to the NHS and are in the Capita partnership. PricewaterhouseCoopers (Pwc) donated more than £100,000 worth of professional advice to some of the Conservative Party's most senior politicians in the first quarter of the year. A total of £102,950 was donated  in non-cash gifts, however it isn’t just the Conservatives. PwC have also donated in the form of research assistants to Ed Balls, John Denham, Caroline Flint, Chuka Umanna as part of their continual involvement in influencing government policy no matter who gets into power. 

Lord Darzi, a former surgeon drafted into government as a health minister by Gordon Brown when he was PM, is now an adviser to medical technology firm GE Healthcare, another ‘Approved Provider.' When speaking at a stage of the Health and Social Care bill when a proposal was put forward to prevent the reading of the bill going any further, he said: ‘he would find it 'difficult at this stage' to vote for blocking the Bill...'I am speaking as a surgeon, not a politician.'

McKinsey also involved in the CCG creations , and who have been accused of being a shadow government  in an article written by George Monbiot, gave £10,000 to David Milliband for a speech made at a Global Business Leaders Summit in February last year. The former foreign secretary also received a sum of £10,044 from the same company for travel expenses and accommodation for a meeting in Singapore in March 2011. In addition to this, Conservative Peer Lord Blackwell, was a partner with McKinsey and Company between 1978 and 1994.

The links to Lords and MPs in this conference, highlights once more the driving force of private companies in the changing state of the NHS.

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