Thursday, 26 July 2012

NHS Partners Network – who are they?


The start
The NHS Partners Network formed in 2005 to provide a voice for private health companies, and was initially made up of organisations involved in the government’s Independent Sector Treatment Sector programme (ISTC). The ISTC initiative was to open up non-emergency treatments to the private sector that would operate (no joke intended) from treatment centres based within NHS hospitals.    

When a leaked document from the Health care Commission raised questions over the quality standards within the ISTCs, the NHS Partners Network used its influence to make sure a report on ISTC’s was less critical than otherwise would be.

In 2007, they were voted on to the NHS confederation, the main representative organisation for organisations offering NHS services.  Since the initial ISTC days, the Network has expanded to include companies and organisations providing services to the NHS.

Social Investigations conducted Lords research
Why do they have influence?
The NHS Partners Network is largely made up of private healthcare companies, with a couple of non-profit organisations thrown in. Their current members list contains 7 companies with financial connections to MPs, Lords or former MPs.


A few examples of this are:
Alliance Medical Limited: 
www.alliancemedical.eu.com – Alan Milburn Alliance Medical runs diagnostic services for the NHS, including in Birmingham and Falkirk. UNISON reported that services were giving patients sub-optimal care, losing the NHS money because of below-capacity uptake, and pressurising hospitals into using private sector treatments.
Care UK: 
www.careuk.com – Andrew Lansley John Nash the Chairman of Care UK gave donations of £21,000 to run Lansley’s office when he was shadow health minister. Bridgepoint who have Lord Patten of Barnes on their books purchased Care UK.
Circle: 
www.circlehealth.co.uk – Mark Simmonds MP is a strategic advisor - the self-styled “social enterprise” that became the first private company to take over the management of an NHS hospital, is owned by companies and investment funds registered in the British Virgin Islands, Jersey and the Cayman Islands. See Corporatewatch ‘An unhealthy business’
The full list of members is below.
How have they used their influence?
When you have connections like they have it certainly provides a platform to being able to obtain high-level meetings.

According to their 2007/08 annual report, they held ‘Major high-level’ meetings with
  • Andy Burnham the Minister of State for Health. 
  • Mark Britnell, who was then the Director-General of Commissioning and System Management for the Department of Health. Mr Britnell has since moved to the private sector as Global Head of Health for business service giant KPMG, He famously said in 2010, while discussing reforms to a private healthcare conference: “In future, The NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer”, and that “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years'.
  • Mark Simmonds as Conservative junior minister for Health Spokesman

The latter raises some serious questions as to what part of the draft bill was influenced by the network. In addition to this according to their 2007/08 Annual Report, in October 2007, they held 'informal conversations with Andrew Lansley' and the Conservative party conference, and perhaps more importantly, held a 'meeting with Lansley on the Conservative party's draft bill.'

The latter suggests that they had advanced warning of the bill and parts of its content which they may have influenced. When we consider who their members are (listed below) this might be considered to be giving them an unfair advantage and certainly more notice that the public were given.What was said? Did they put in anything to do with competition? Lansley had competition in mind when writing the White Paper, he just didn't bother telling the public who he is meant to represent.

Health and Social Care bill
In 2008 they had a Meeting with then shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, on matters to do with the Conservative party’s draft bill.
In October 2010, Simon Burns (the Minister for Health), Earl Howe, and Andrew Lansley’s Special Advisor, Bill Morgan, attended two meetings with David Worskett, the director of the NHS Partners Network. In the meetings, the ministers reassured the lobby director that opposition to parts of the bill increasing competition would soon ‘dissipate’.

A further meeting head with Earl Howe and Simon Burns on the 19th May, 2011, went well. Earl Howe offered a ‘depiction’ of the ‘Government position’, that meant ‘“choice” was a non-negotiable.’ This view led Mr Worskett to say: ‘He could have been delivering a précis of our briefing notes (which of course he had already seen)’. No wonder then that later in the day at a National Stakeholder Forum, Earl Howe ‘endorsed [Mr Worskett’s] arguments twice during the session on competition and regulation’.

Competition in the bill
A newly discovered document has revealed the lobby group held a ‘lengthy’ discussion with the chair of choice and competition of the NHS Future Forum Sir Stephen Bubb, during the Health bill ‘pause’.

In the meeting according to the document which was intended for the eyes of the Network’s members only, Mr Worskett had ‘agreed on the approach he (Mr Bubb) would take, what the key issues are, and how to handle the politics.’ He has, he concluded, ‘not deviated from this for a moment throughout the period.’ Perhaps it is this influence that they are referring to in the annual summary 2010/11 report where they say, one of their ‘main activities’ involved ‘influencing the development of the NHS reforms’.

The NHS Partners Network are not finished lobbying yet, having recently responded to the first stage of the health regulator’s (Monitor’s) review into the fair playing field for NHS providers. They held a meeting under the auspices of the right-wing think tank "Reform" with David Bennett, the head of Monitor who are running the review. The room was full of ‘like-minded’ people. The NHSPN’s press release announcing their submission to the review states: ‘We look forward to working with Monitor throughout the consultation process.’


NHS Partner Network members and connections
3Well Medical: 
alma.3well.info/home
Alliance Medical Limited: 
www.alliancemedical.eu.com – Alan Milburn Alliance Medical runs diagnostic services for the NHS, including in Birmingham[15] and Falkirk.[16] UNISON reported that services were giving patients sub-optimal care, losing the NHS money because of below-capacity uptake, and pressurising hospitals into using private sector treatments 
Alliance Surgical Plc
: www.allsurgical.co.uk/
Assura Medical Limited
: www.assuramedical.co.uk - Baroness Morgan of Huyton Ex-director of failed care home, Southern Cross, is a member of the advisory committee board of Virgin Group Holdings Ltd. Virgin Healthcare Holdings is a subsidiary of them, who took over Assura Medical Limited and renamed them Virgin Care. Vivienne Mcvey is a board member/Director of Virgin Healthcare holdings and has represented NHS Partners Network when giving evidence on behalf of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Ms McVey is a member of the CQC Providers Advisory Group and was a part of the NHS future forum and is also a member of an 'Independent' Panel set up by Lansley in March  to look at the impact of the NHS Constitution.

Barchester Healthcare: 
www.barchester.com – Baroness Ford – Chairman - Chairman of Grove Ltd, a holding company for for Barchester Health.  Mike Parsons the Chief Executive was voted 2nd most influential person in healthcare by the HealthInvestor members.
Baxter Healthcare: www.baxterhealthcare.co.uk/
Bupa Home Healthcare: 
www.bupa.co.uk/home-healthcare – Baroness Bottomley is a director, Lord Edmiston has shares, Lord Leitch is a non-executive director, Baroness Liddell is an Associate member
Care UK: 
www.careuk.com – John (now Lord) Nash the then Chairman of Care UK gave donations of £21,000 to run Lansley’s office when he was shadow health minister. Bridgepoint who have Lord Patten of Barnes on their books purchased Care UK.
Circle
: www.circlehealth.co.uk – Mark Simmonds MP is a strategic advisor -
Connect Physical Health: 
www.connectphysiotherapy.co.uk
General Health Group
: www.generalhealthcare.co.uk
Harmoni CPO Limited: 
www.harmoni.co.uk
Healthcare at Home: 
www.healthcare-at-home.co.uk
InterHealth Canada: 
www.interhealthcanada.co.uk
Medical Services: 
www.medicalservicesuk.com
Nuffield Health
: www.nuffieldhealth.com


Oasis Dental Care Limited
: www.oasisdentalcare.co.uk – the recently deceased Baron Newton of Braintree
Pfizer Health Solutions UK: 
www.phsownhealth.co.uk –  Owen Smith: MP for Pontypridd. A former UK lobbyist for the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, where he was head of government affairs from 2005-2007. Lord Goldsmith: Partner in International law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, whose clients include Pfizer.
Primecare Primary Care: 
www.primecare.uk.net
Ramsay Health Care UK
: www.ramsayhealth.co.uk
Spire Healthcare: www.spirehealthcare.com - Cinven purchased them and Cinven are connected to Patricia Hewitt
The Horder Centre
: www.horder.co.uk
UK Specialist Hospitals Limited
: www.uk-sh.co.uk
UnitedHealth UK: 
www.unitedhealthuk.com
Vanguard Healthcare Solutions Ltd: 
www.vanguardhealthcare.co.uk

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