Saturday 26 May 2012

Finalists of Private Healthcare Award Ceremony raise glasses with Lords and MPs

An annual award ceremony, promoting the ‘excellence’ and ‘innovation’ of the independent healthcare sector is taking place in London, Thursday, the 31st of May. However, on close inspection, the finalists of this year’s event are notable for their connections to our so-called public servants, many of whom played some part in passing the Health and Social Care bill into an Act.

Black tie evening at the Grosvenor
The dress code is black tie; the setting, the plush surroundings of Central London’s Grosvenor Hotel, the cost of a table for ten, £3,000. Austerity, it seems, has not yet reached the pockets of the private healthcare companies increasingly making money from the our National Health Service.  

Welcome to the annual HealthInvestor Awards 2012, where companies taking their piece from the NHS pie will meet, for a pat on the back for a job well done.  

Even before we go into this year’s finalists, we should take a look at a few of last year’s winners. First up, under the category ‘Consultants of the Year’, the winner was a company called L.E.K consulting. They have Conservative Peer, Lord Wakeham working for them as an advisor, the Rt Honourable Malcolm Rifkind who is a member of the advisory board, and Conservative MP for Bedford, Richard Fuller, who worked for the company from 1984 to 2007. L.E.K consultancy is a global company, which specialises in healthcare, providing services, which include, business growth, and ‘new opportunities with government.’ Success comes often to L.E.K consultancy, who won the Healthcare Sector Adviser of the Year Award for the supposedly ‘prestigious’ Acquisitions Monthly awards, in 2010. Across Europe, L.E.K. have provided commercial advice on 19 healthcare sector transactions, one of which being Bridgepoint’s £414 million acquisition of Care UK. Everyone but seemingly the BBC, judging by their lack of challenging on this subject, know that John Nash the chairman of Care UK bankrolled Andrew Lansley’s office.

BBC chief - Lord Patten of Barnes
Bridgepoint, a private equity investment company have BBC chief, Lord Patten of Barnes, as a member of the advisory board. Bridgepoint, have been involved in 17 healthcare deals over recent years, which include four in the UK, one of which being Care UK, at a combined investment worth over £1.1 billion. Another deal saw Tunstall, a telehealth company with contracts in the NHS, acquired by Charterhouse Development Company for £555 million; who have another Lord Patten as their senior advisor. Four companies were involved in the transaction, including; Goldman Sachs, Clifford Chance, KPMG, and LEK, three of which have Lords in senior positions. Lord Griffiths is a director at Goldman Sachs; Lord Harris is a senior advisor at KPMG, and as we know, Lord Wakeham is an adviser to LEK.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, Tunstall made up the other winner of the 2011 awards, under the category Telehealth/Telecare, smoothly linking the three winners in the awards to companies who have members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords on their payroll.  

So onto 2012, and what are the chances of a company winning an award this year that has an MP or Lord on its books? The answer would appear to be very good, given that 25 of these year’s finalists pay or donate to our parliamentarians.

Lord Clement-Jones
Let’s start with DLA Piper, a global law firm who provide lobbying services to “clients in the health and social care sectors”. DLA Piper counts failed Care Home provider, Southern Cross amongst its clients. Lord Clement-Jones nominated Lord Hameed for his peerage, a nomination supported by Lord Dholakia. Lord Hameed sits on the board of Alpha hospitals, part of the Alpha Healthcare (C&C Alpha/C&C business solutions) group. The Alpha group has made significant donations to the Liberal Democrat party. The Times exposed Lord Clement-Jones as being the man who nominated Lord Hameed, after the peer had originally said he had 'no idea.'

L.E.K. consulting find themselves in with a chance again this year, in the ‘Strategic consultant of the year’, category, alongside FTI consulting, who have Lord Malloch-Brown as their Chairman of Global Affairs. FTI produced an article called ‘Time for Change’, in September last year, promoting the benefits of the Health and Social Care Act.

Care UK, directly linked to Andrew Lansley through their chairman’s donation to his office, are in the running under the ‘Diagnostics Provider of the Year’, Category for their Rotherham Centre. Just as well they are not in the running for the best financially run company, given their huge debt, revealed by Corporate Watch, in their Care UK fact sheet. Bridgepoint issued a ‘£250 million bond, secured against Care UK’s assets, to fund its acquisition in 2010. It is paying a massive 9.75% interest a year on this, meaning £25 million is leaving the company every year, going straight to banks and financiers.’

Even the sponsorship of the event involves a company with a Peer at the helm. DAC Beachcroft, an international law firm, have Lord Hunt of Wirral as a partner. As the Health and Social Care bill was being debated in the House of Lords, Beachcroft, heavily involved in healthcare, positioned itself into an alliance led by Capita, which was making money from developing the new Clinical Commissioning groups (CCGs). All this as Lord Hunt of Wirral was voting loyally helping the bill pass into Act.

The list goes on and you can see the full finalists  with the various Lords and MPs listed next to the company involved, here.

So, as people worry about the future of the National Health Service, the Grosvenor Hotel will be full of companies benefitting from a system that allows our MPS and Lords to vote despite a conflict of interest. A bill that had no mandate from any party, in a sector that financially links 142 Lords and multiple MPs (ongoing) to companies involved in private healthcare. No doubt there will be a glass or two raised to the passing of the Health and Social Care bill, and to a very profitable future.

List of Finalists in the HealthInvestor Awards and their Parliamentarian Connections

This list makes up the finalists involved in the Private Healthcare Award ceremony, HealthInvestor 2012, which has an  MP or Lord next to the company they are involved in. This list, which highlights the self-interest may well not be complete and if you know of any companies that have MPS and Lords involved in them, please let me know by emailing me at - 

View the article on the event here.

Corporate financier of the year
Catalyst Corporate Finance
Deloitte – Donates to the government through researchers to all parties.
Grant Thornton – Provided policy advise to George Osborne in 2008. James Purnell as senior advisor former Labour secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
Jefferies International
KPMG – Lord Harris of Harringey – Senior advisor; Lord Hastings, Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity for global tax; Baroness Manningham-Buller – had speaking arrangement for KPMG, Charles Clarke, former Labour MP for Norwich South, In 2008 was listed as a consultant to KPMG.
RBS – David Davies MP for Haltemprice and Howden has shares in RBS, John Hemming MP for Birmingham, Yardley, has shares in RBS, In 2008, Jonathan Djanology MP for Huntingdon, Dominic Grieve MP for Beaconsfield, had shares in RBS, Philip Hammond were guests of RBS at Wimbledon 

Consultants of the year
- strategic
FTI Consulting – Lord Malloch-Brown: Chairman of FTI Global Affairs
HPC - Healthcare Property Consultants
L.E.K. Consulting - Lord Wakeham: Advisor; Richard Fuller MP for Bedford was a consultant, Malcolm Rifkind MP for Kensington: Member of Advisory Board
Llewelyn Davies Yeang
UK Preventive Medicine

Consultants of the year
- transactional
Deloitte – provides donations to all parties through the use of researchers
HPC - Healthcare Property Consultants
KPMG – Lord Harris of Harringey – Senior advisor; Lord Hastings, Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity for global tax; Baroness Manningham-Buller – had speaking arrangement for KPMG, Charles Clarke, former Labour MP for Norwich South, In 2008 was listed as a consultant to KPMG.
Tanner & Tilley

Legal advisors of the year
- private
CMS Cameron McKenna
DAC Beachcroft – Lord Hunt of Wirral: Partner, Charles Clarke former MP for Norwich was listed in 2008 register of interests as a consultant in 2008.
DR Solicitors
Eversheds – Lord Hutton of Furness: Advisor.
George Davies Solicitors
Mills & Reeve
Shoosmiths – Guy Opperman MP for Hexam – received seven payments from the solicitors from 2009 to 2012 -
Speechly Bircham – Stephen Dorrell MP for Charnwood, received a £250 payment for a speech made at a dinner organized by Speechly Bircham in May, 2011.

Legal advisors of the year
- public
Addleshaw Goddard
DAC Beachcroft - Lord Hunt of Wirral: Partner, Charles Clarke former MP for Norwich was listed in 2008 register of interests as a consultant in 2008.
Eversheds Lord Hutton of Furness: Advisor.
Mills & Reeve
Pinsent Masons
Wragge & Co

Legal advisors of the year
- transactional
Addleshaw Goddard
CMS Cameron McKenna
DAC Beachcroft – See above
DLA Piper – Baroness Wheatcroft: Business consultant (legal services). Lord Clement-Jones: Partner. Baroness Symans of Vernham Dean: International consultant. Lord Warner – had a contract to do with infrastructure and public services.
Eversheds – See above
Mills & Reeve
Pinsent Masons
Shoosmiths – See above
Speechly Bircham – See above

Lessor of the year
- asset finance
De Lage Landen
GE Capital
Santander - Lord Elystan has shares in the Bank

Bank or Lender of the year
Aviva Commercial Finance – Lord Sharman: Chairman of Aviva and has shareholdings. Baroness Hayman has shares.
Bank of Ireland
Barclays Corporate
Clydesdale Bank/Yorkshire Bank
Lloyds TSB
RBS – See above
Santander – See above

Diagnostics provider of the year
Care UK Rotherham Diagnostic Centre - Andrew Lansley MP for Cambridgeshire South’s office was bankrolled by donation from Care UK chairman John Nash. Lord Hamilton of Epsom is a director of management consultancy MSB LTD who have Care UK as one of their clients.
GSTS Pathology
The London Clinic
UME Diagnostics

Primary care provider of the year
Army/NHS Scotland
Assura Medical
Healthcare at Home
Oasis Dental Care 
One Medicare
Serco – Lord Freeman – Shares. Baroness James: Shares. Lord Filkin: Advisor. Lord Gavron: Shares.

Private hospital group of the year
Optegra UK
Aspen Healthcare
HCA - Lord Hollick, shares.
Nuffield Health
Ramsay Health Care
Spire Healthcare – Patricia Hewitt – advisor to Cinven who invested in Spire. Alistair Darling who received payment of £10,200 for speaking at an event organized by Cinven.  

Staffing agency of the year
Country Cousins
DRC Group
Finegreen Associates
Geneva Health UK
Independent Clinical Services
RIG Healthcare

Private equity investor of the year
Albion Ventures – Lord St John – Non – executive director
Apposite Capital
August Equity
Bowmark Capital – Lord Powell of Bayswater: Chairman of advisory board
GI Partners European
Moonray Healthcare
Silverfleet Capital
Sovereign Capital – Andrew Lansley: Office bankrolled by John Nash who is a founder of Sovereign Capital

IT innovator of the year
Advantage Business Systems
Allocate Software
Cambridge Healthcare
Coldharbour Systems
LNT Software
Process Matrix
PS Health
Williams Medical Supplies

Telehealth/telecare provider of the year
Tunstall - Lord Patten is a senior advisor to Charterhouse Development Capital Ltd, who purchased Tunstall for £510 million in 2008.
Bosch Healthcare
GE Home Healthcare - Lord Darzi: Labour - Former surgeon drafted into government as a health minister by Gordon Brown when he was PM. Now an adviser to medical technology firm GE Healthcare.
O2 Health
Telehealth Solutions – Lord Edmiston has shares in Fidelity International Ltd, which acquired Telehealth Solutions Ltd in 2011.

Property consultants of the year
- capital markets
Christie + Co
Jones Lang LaSalle
Knight Frank
Savills Healthcare
Vector Property Group

Property consultants of the year
- property services
Aitchison Raffety
Capita Symonds Health
Christie + Co Care Team
Dacres Commerical
GP Surveyors
GVA Health
Jones Lang LaSalle
Knight Frank
Sweett Group
Vector Property Group

Property developer of the year
GB Partnerships
LNT Construction
LSP Developments
Medical Centres Group
One Medical

Property investor of the year
Assura Group
Bridges Ventures
Kames Capital

Domiciliary care provider of the year
Active Assistance
Enara Group
Home Instead Senior Care
Trimar Care

Residential care provider of the year
Balhousie Care Group
Barchester Healthcare - Baroness Ford: Chairman. Part of the NHS Partners Network. Chairman of Grove Ltd, a holding company for Barchester Health.
Care UK – See diagnostics at top
Caring Homes
Country Court Care
Four Seasons Health Care 
Ideal Care Homes
Maria Mallaband Care Group
Runwood Homes

Specialist care provider of the year
Active Assistance
Advanced Childcare
Home Instead
Lifeways Group

Complex care provider of the year
Christchurch Court
Independent Community Care Management
Neural Pathways
Qura Brain
The Complete Group

Community support provider of the year
First Call Care Services
New Pathways
Newham House
People to People

Public / private partnership of the year
Assura Medical / NHS Surrey
Cambridge Healthcare
HCA / The Christie Clinic – See above
Healthcare at Home / University Hospital Southampton NHSFT – See above private hospital group of the year.
Spire / National Orthopaedic Hospital – See Private hospital Group of the year.
Synergy Health / University Hospital Leicester NHS Trust
The Strategic Projects Team at NHS Midlands and East
Townlands Hospital (Henley)

Outstanding contribution by an individual
Helena Jeffery - Founding Director of Caring Homes Healthcare Group and First Care Homes
Lawrence Tomlinson, LNT Group
Mike Parsons, CEO Barchester Healthcare – Baroness Ford: Chairman. Part of the NHS Partners Network. Chairman of Grove Ltd, a holding company for Barchester Health.  

Thursday 24 May 2012

Tory Lord is Partner of Company Making Money from GP Group Development and Sponsor of Healthinvestors Award

An award ceremony for companies involved in private healthcare, is being sponsored by a company who has a Conservative Lord as their partner, and who moved their company in a position to make money form the healthcare reforms as the Health and Social Care bill was being debated in the Lords.

The Healthinvestors awards are described by the website as being ‘the biggest night of the year for the independent health sector.’ Their claim is accurate, as the list of last years attendees reads like a who’s, who in the private healthcare sector, including ‘key names from across the political and commercial spectrum.’

One attendee of this year’s event, taking place in the swanky Grosvenor hotel, London on May 31st is certain to be one of the sponsors, the international law firm Beachcroft, who came to the attention of Social Investigations when it was discovered that as the Health and Social Care bill was being debated in the House of Lords, Beachcroft positioned itself into an alliance led by Capita, which was making money from developing the new Clinical Commissioning groups (CCGs).

Lord Hunt of Wirral
Beachcroft, like so many organisations involved in healthcare, has a parliamentarian in their ranks, and this case it is Lord Hunt of Wirral. The Tory Peer 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. He is now a partner of the firm.

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.

Beachcroft are listed as a 2012 finalist at the awards under the category ‘Legal advisors of the year – private’, I suspect their chances of winning are rather good.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

UK Politics: Public Servants, Lies and the Future is Corporate?

We understand that humans will potentially behave badly when they have power or are faced with being able to make a lot of money. So with this in mind, we as a society have demanded access to information that allows the public and the press to monitor our so-called public servants. The Freedom of Information Act as George Monbiot points out in his article in the Guardian today, is of no use when it comes to the corporations, who are holding the taxpayer to ransom, and the consumer in contempt.

As it stands Corporations hide behind ‘corporate confidentiality’, aided by a willing set of politicians who are happy to defend the deals they have created on behalf of their paymasters. This behaviour and protection should play no part in a transparent society, but then again, our MPs and Lords are not only representing the needs of the corporations over the public, they are the corporations. They sit on the boards, they are the directors, advisors and seats in government, they make the rules for themselves, and they then vote on these rules despite the conflicts of interest.

Our politics is broken, 60% of our ecosystems are degraded, deregulation and greed is taking us to the brink, surveillance is everywhere, police monitor protesters who are legitimately using their right to protest, feeding information to the corporations who are being targeted; and create blacklists preventing politically involved people from getting jobs. We have seen how corrupt they are, taking payments from Murdoch’s hacks, and occasionally getting away with murder. All this happening without a privatised force, what will they be like once they are owned by a corporation? This frightening handing over of our services to corporations is increasingly in every area of our lives, our schools, energy, health, roads, water, housing, government, and it appears there is no limit to their greed.

What have the corporations actually given us? Name a public utility privatisation that has benefited the taxpayer and the consumer? The price of fuel is going through the roof, house prices are astronomical, trains are the most expensive in Europe, and so it goes on. In this regard I present a great quote by Arian Hamilton, formerly of the Institute of Economic affairs when writing in the Observer on January 2nd 1994 on the privatisation of British Gas.

‘Whatever else privatisation has done, it has done little for the consumer, at least in the case of the electricity and resource industries. The City has done well out of the sales of shares. The users have been bribed with the offer of cut-price shares. The management has been bought off with huge pay rises and substantial share options. (The present chairman of British Gas earns as much in a year as his predecessor did in his entire career of building up the industry)…Privatisation of British Gas has been a scandal. As a nationalised industry, it had converted the entire country to natural gas and revolutionized the energy scene. As a privatised company, it has done little more than sit back and reward itself and its advisers from the benefits of former investments and its dominant position.’

Society is falling into a deep dark hole and it will take a huge effort to reverse this malignant politics, spearheaded by corrupt, bigoted minds such as Francis Maude. What on Earth is someone like Maude, who wishes to eradicate the state provision of public services, doing in public office? Francis Maude like so many of our politicians are happy to take a wage paid for by us, reap the benefits of a good pension, and then do their utmost to destroy everything that has been built over the years. The idea that he is a public servant is laughable, and he should be treated as such by both us and the media.
One look through the MP and Lords register of interests highlights the sheer volume of corporate dominance in our politics. The staggering number of 142 Lords with financial interests in companies involved in private healthcare is evidence enough of who our parliamentarians represent. Take Margot James, who is seen on a video at a pharmaceutical conference saying: I keep saying ‘we’, but I’m not really part of the industry anymore, but I still feel it.’ This would explain why she was so keen to sit on the Health and Social Care bill committee in order to: ‘play a part in that debate and go on the committee to really iron out the details...’

How are we meant to trust them, when we watch Peter Cruddas offering access to the Prime Minister for £250,000 and he is allowed to resign rather than be placed under arrest, and investigated. It was remarkable that the Conservatives wheeled out Francis Maude to say the revelations were nothing more than: "embarrassing and wrong, and not true…That's not the way we do business and raise money, and we're very clear about that."

Why should the press accept anything he says as anything but a lie, fuelled by self-interests of his connections outside of parliament. Francis Maude who was a director a PR firm called Huntsworth, who are run by a Conservative Lord, called Lord Chadlington, who has donated money to Cameron as has his company. Why don’t the media with access to these interests challenge Maude’s authenticity when he speaks on such matters?

The list is endless. Cameron making Lord Popat a Peer after he donated money to the Conservative party,
Mark Simmonds, paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, George Osbourne who received donation through Conservative Campaign Headquarters to run his office from Julian Schild. Julian Schild’s family made £184million in 2006 by selling hospital bed-makers Huntleigh Technology. Andrew Lansley who accepted money from Care UK chairman John Nash to run his office.

They behave this way, because they are allowed to get away with it. The BBC utterly failed to challenge Andrew Lansley on his private healthcare links throughout the course of the Health and Social Care bill. In fact, aside from an article in 2008 highlighting the links between cabinet ministers and their private donations, their challenging of the Health Secretary was notable in its absence.

However the media can only accept some of the blame, we the public have not taken to the streets in the numbers required, the Unions have not called a strike to protect the NHS, and when Andrew Lansley was found to have cheated his expenses by selling his home after renovating it on taxpayers money, he was voted back in.

The latest vote however has clearly stated this coalition is not wanted, but what damage will they do before they are ousted. Will Labour, the likely beneficiaries, shed the skin of New Labour and turn away from a free market capitalist system that has caused so much damage to both our society and our environment? France has chosen socialism in times of austerity, do we have that option or is our Labour party still the same party that lied to us about the Iraq war, and continued the expansion of privatisation unabated?

Tuesday 1 May 2012

I keep saying ‘we’, but I’m not really part of the industry anymore, but I still feel it.’

Margot James MP for Stourbridge
When is an MP a spokesperson for big business, and when is big business an MP? If you can’t tell the difference, then you’re not alone, because some MPs are not so sure themselves.

Margot James is the Conservative MP for Stourbridge; having won her seat in the 2010 election to become one of the existing 15% of Tory Mps to come from a lobbying background. However a film taken of her at a lobbying group conference reveals she hasn’t really left it behind?

In 2004, Margot James was the Co-founder of public relations company, Shire Health Group, until she sold her firm to business partner and leading advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather for £4 million. In the process of the sale, Ms James became the Head of European Healthcare for Oglivy & Mather who are part of the WPP Group, one of the big three marketing and communications conglomerates.

In January 2005, the WPP Group formed a new healthcare area with the merger of Ogilvy Healthcare, and Healthworld Communications Group. Margot James, who was head of Ogilvy Healthcare at the time, as well as being a parliamentary spokesperson for the Conservative Party, took the role of regional president of the merged company. Ogilvy Healthworld provides marketing and medical education services to the pharmaceutical industry.

She stood down from her role in 2008, at the same time as giving up being a councillor in the Brompton ward of Kensington and Chelsea. Ms James wanted more however, and moved from a person of industry, to become an MP.

Yet, it appears the lure of her previous work has been too difficult to stay away from. Since becoming an MP, Ms James has continued to speak at events hosted by Healthcare Communication Associations (HCA), a lobbying group which according to its website, ‘has sufficient influence and credibility to shape opinion and lead debate.’

This statement is true.

Aside from the pharmaceutical giants who are listed as members, the HCA has a company called Huntsworth Health on its list, which is owned by Conservative Peer Lord Chadlington. The Lord has given money to David Cameron for his leadership campaign, and Huntsworth Health have provided donations to the party every year since 2008. Such influence in itself is a cause for concern, but another member in the HCA list is Ms James’s old employer Olgivy & Mather. This leaves the HCA with two voices in each of the parliamentary houses, and one vote in each house that helped pass the Health and Social Care bill into Act

Lobbying is rife, permeating every area of our political system and if Peter Cruddas the Tory co-treasurer is anything to go by ‘premiership’ access to policy change can be bought. Margot James sought confirmation on this in by asking Conservative MP Francis Maude to ’confirm that no such policy committee as described by Mr Cruddas exists at No.10 and that there is no evidence that any policy has been changed by private lobbying.’ Naturally, Mr Maude denied it was possible to bend policy in such a way

Margot however, certainly knows the way it works, having admitted she has made ‘some introductions to shadow ministers for charities and businesses,’ although she is adamant that this was purely on a ‘public interest basis.’ Incidentally, in her capacity as European president for Oligvy & Mather she gave evidence to the 2005 Health Select Committee inquiry in to the Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry, which concluded that the “close contact between the UK Government and the pharmaceutical industry in formulating health policy was illustrated by Ms Margot James”

Fortunately walls have ears and organisations are keen to boast, so when Margot James came to speak at an event hosted by the HCA, somebody filmed it. The seminar entitled: ‘The future of healthcare Communications’, took place in October 2010, two months prior to the publication of the White paper: Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, and after she became MP.

On taking to the podium, Ms James began by informing her audience how she was hoping to ‘go on the bill (Health) committee once the second reading of the health bill…comes to parliament.’ This she achieved, placing herself in a position where she could affect the bill in the interests of her former industry.
A little further into the video, she is seen telling the enthralled audience how she intends to; ‘play a part in that debate and go on the committee to really iron out the details...’ For the public good no doubt, although halfway though she mentions: ‘I keep saying ‘we’, but I’m not really part of the industry anymore, but I still feel it.’

There is no doubt about that, which is why when someone from the audience asks her how to bridge the gap between themselves and the new GP consortia, she offers them some advice: ‘If you’ve got it down to a consortia level, and you’ve got a few people old-style people who are just anti the industry for whatever reason, from way back when, you’ve got to find other people I think, that you can influence…that you can prove that those other people are wrong and who don’t speak for the wider good industry can bring. So it’s not easy but I do think it’s possible by dividing your audience in the way I’ve just described.’

Imagine my surprise then, when I came across an article in the Huffington Post written by Ms James titled: ‘Tackling Vested Interests in the NHS’. Needless to say she wasn’t talking about her own interests, but was claiming the debate over NHS reform was being ‘framed by vested interests in the NHS; principally the royal colleges and trade unions.’ Huffington Post like many media outlets allow our politicians to present blatant propaganda unchallenged in the name of 'impartiality'.

So Margot James another lobbying agent turned MP, was able to sit on the Health and Social Care bill committee, and vote on the Health and Social Care bill, despite having such clear and obvious conflicts of interest. She, like many MPs and Lords are playing their part in the weakening of our democracy, but perhaps when the people of Stourbridge next take to the ballot, they may want to ask themselves, who does my MP actually serve?

View the film of her seminar below: