Thursday 5 July 2012

Nearly Forty Percent of Most Powerful Individuals in healthcare have Lords and MPs Linked to their Companies

The ‘Health Investor Power Fifty’ is made up of individuals considered to be the most ‘influential leaders’ in the healthcare industry. Each year, readers of the industry magazine, nominate who they think are the most dominant and influential in that year.

Votes for the most powerful individuals in 2012 are now taking place, but a quick glance at the 2011 list reveals how readily our ‘public servants’ are willing to attach themselves to companies making a success out of healthcare, an industry set to expand because of the Health and Social Care bill, in which they voted.

Included in the 'Power Fifty' list, is Dominic Dalli of private equity company Sovereign Capital. The investment firm was founded by hedge fund manager John Nash, who is also the chairman of Care UK. Mr Nash bankrolled Andrew Lansley’s office when he was shadow health minister to the tune of £21,000. This financial connection to Mr Lansley, was not deemed worthy of a challenge by the BBC, who failed to question him on this link throughout the course of the Health and Social Care bill into Act. Mr Dalli himself, is a deal-maker and according to the HealthInvestor biography is one of the ‘best in the business.’

Led by John Nash, it is perhaps unsurprising that Care UK should be represented, coming in at number 3 in the list. Care UK runs 85 residential homes, provides care for over 17,000 people across the UK and has been at the front of the queue when NHS services have been privatised. In addition, and according to corporate monitoring organisation Corporate Watch, it also carries ‘huge debt, avoids tax, siphons money off to its private equity owners, and has been accused of negligence and abuse.’

The Corporate Watch factsheet reveals more. Care UK was bought by private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital in 2010. Mike Parish, who is named on the Power Fifty list, was involved in the deal. ‘Private equity firms, sometimes called ‘vulture funds’, buy companies, restructure them and then sell them, often making huge profits for the private equity managers and investors but leaving the company in difficulty. On takeover by Bridgepoint, Care UK issued £130 million of loan notes on the Channel Islands stock exchange. It is paying £8 million a year in interest on these loans. The inland revenue deemed £4 million of this interest could be tax-deductible, helping Care UK wipe out its taxable profits.’ Is this the way we want health run in the UK?

Bridgepoint, the owners of Care UK, complete the incestuous relationship, connecting Lords and MPs together in the purchase of Care UK, in what was considered the ‘biggest deal of year.’ Bridgepoint has BBC chief Lord Patten of Barnes as their advisor, who also include ex-Blairite health secretary Alan Milburn on their books, on the chair of the board. Bridgepoint have been involved in 17 healthcare deals over recent years listed below. Eight of these companies remain as their current investments, which include four in the UK at a combined investment worth over £1.1 billion.

Other companies included in the list, who have a public servant connected to them, are Rothschild, who have Oliver Letwin on their team; Circle Health who have Mark Simmonds as an advisor, and Barchester Health, who have Baroness Ford as Chairman.

The list of Lords and MPs financially connected to private healthcare has revealed the corporate takeover of our democracy to the benefit of the healthcare industry with all areas of the industry covered from private equity advisors to chairman, funders of the government to shareholders of the company. The rules that are set up to prevent misuse of power, and exclusive benefit to companies these peers have interests in, have utterly failed and are not fit for purpose. All of these MPs and Lords were able to vote on the Health and Social Care bill despite their connections, helping the bill pass into Act. The current set of Lords reforms will do nothing to change this, and until these rules are changed, this behaviour will continue.

Sign the petition to prevent the Lords from being able to vote when they have a financial conflict of interest.

The 2012 awards for the fifty most powerful people awards, will take place on the 29th of November in Central London.  

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