As the Health and Social Care bill was being debated in the House of Lords, Beachcroft an international law firm heavily involved in healthcare positioned itself into an alliance led by Capita, which was making money from developing the new Clinical Commissioning groups (CCGs).
Beachcroft like so many companies involved in healthcare has a Lord in a senior position. Lord Hunt of Wirral was a senior partner at Beachcroft Wansboroughs now DAC Beachcroft from 1996 until 2005, whereupon he became chairman of the firm’s financial services division.
When speaking in a House of Lords debate on health in October 2010, he said: ‘Many of the Government's commitments will require primary legislation, and 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.’
Seven months before the Conservative Peer made that statement, and five months before the government publically released their White Paper: Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS: Beachcroft were busy strengthening their healthcare team. In an article appearing in the lawyer, it revealed how Beachcroft were raiding a ‘10-strong team of lawyers from Halliwells’ healthcare practice.’ Head of healthcare Nigel Montgomery told the lawyer: “It [healthcare] is absolutely a growth area and has grown substantially over the last three years,”
Further depth to their healthcare team was made following the appointment of partner Eve Gregory, from legal giant Eversheds, a firm that had already lost a five-strong health team in the health sector to Beachcroft in 2008.
Beachcroft’s influence cannot be overstated, with the law firm having over 300 health clients; 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. In July this year, Peter Lee, former Partner and now consultant at Beachcroft, was appointed Chairman of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. In the same month, the NHS Commercial Alliance, a new procurement partnership set up in 2010, selected 11 law firms in one of the largest legal services framework agreements in the country, valued at £20m for up to four years. The framework agreement, which was awarded last month, covers eight lots, and Beachcroft are represented in every one of them.
Lord Hunt is not the only parliament representative they’ve had; Charles Clarke – the former Labour MP for Norwich South was once listed as a consultant to Beachcroft LLP. The MP was roundly condemned by those on the left of the party for his statement suggesting people should be charged for 'peripheral treatments'.
Beachcroft who have just launched a new updated guide for Clinical Commissioning Groups at the beginning of April, are all set to make money from the continued CCG development process. Capita who have won multiple contracts to develop the new CCGs, are leading the way, sponsoring the Clinical Commissioning conference titled: ‘‘Defining Our Future’, taking place today (24th April) in London.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but say it I will, Lord Hunt of Wirral was able to vote on the Health and Social care bill, and vote he did; loyally with the government in all key divisions. His connection to a company involved in private healthcare makes him one of the 27% of Conservative Lords with such interests.
Did Lord Hunt give inside knowledge of the upcoming changes to Beachcroft? The answer is we don’t know, and Beachcroft can surely stand on their own two feet. What is certain however, is Lord Hunt of Wirral should not be allowed to vote on a bill with this conflict of interest. Our democracy is broken and the corporations are running the show.
Please sign the petition below to stop the Lords from being allowed to vote with conflicts of interest http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31991
If the story sounds familiar, it’s because another Tory Peer Baroness Cumberlege who runs a training and consultancy company called Cumberlege Connections, had also moved her company into an alliance led by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is winning contracts to develop the new CCGs; the story is told here.