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NHS WARNING! Privatisation puts patients at risk
BMI Healthcare runs 65 private hospitals in Britain where it is the biggest private health firm. It usually gets an easy ride from the media, but less so recently.
A devastating report from the Care Quality Commission showed that failures at BMI's Mount Alvernia Hospital in Guildford, Surrey, put lives at risk.
Examples of 'chaotic and dangerous care' included a surgeon who operated without gloves in blood-stained shirtsleeves.
A child whose condition was deteriorating was not seen by a paediatrician for seven hours. One patient had a nerve block pain relief on the wrong side of his body. Blood transfusions were not managed safely.
Senior nurses and other staff repeatedly told Mount Alvernia managers that patients were being put at risk but they were ignored at the top.
The hospital did not regularly deal with very sick children, and had no guidance on it; no early warning system to alert staff to a child's deterioration; and no policy on pain management for children.
Children's resuscitation equipment was broken and there was only one trained children's nurse. The report found untrained staff with limited experience.
Private health firms tend to cherry-pick what ailments they deal with and children's illnesses may not be as profitable as others. Private healthcare's preferred speciality would be diseases of the rich.
The NHS local clinical commissioning group in Guildford had been using the hospital's services but it banned local hospitals sending patients to Mount Alvernia, the first time the NHS had imposed such a block.
BMI was forced to apologise even though the investigation only happened because of concerns raised by whistleblowers.
The report shows a hospital where surgeons broke rules and refused to listen to criticism. If such revelations had come out about NHS hospital care there would, quite rightly, have been an uproar.
BMI Healthcare claims that all the issues at Mount Alvernia have now been put right and there are no comparable problems elsewhere.
But BMI treats a million patients a year in 'partnership' with the NHS. As a private company, profit is the bottom line and BMI's parent company General Healthcare Group has had crisis talks over possible debt problems this year.
Despite the huge problems, there is still pressure on Britain's NHS hospitals, facing huge austerity cuts, to consider deeper links with the private sector, even takeovers.
Don't let our NHS slip into the far from tender care of the capitalist market in a severe recession! Fight the Con-Dems' attack on our hospitals.
- Kick big business out of the NHS
- All hospitals to be fully run and funded by the NHS
- Adequate staffing levels to provide good quality care for all patients. Decent pay and conditions for all staff
- Health service unions to organise industrial action to defend every part of the NHS
In The Socialist 8 May 2013:
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