The Socialist 9 February 2006 |
Join the Socialist
NHS - hands off our GP services!
PRIVATISATION OF General Practice is Labour's latest act of
destruction of the NHS. In the former North Derbyshire coalfield and
inner-city Derby, two General Practices are being put out to tender. The
giant US company, United Health Europe (UHE), has been named "preferred
Dr Jon Dale
At a meeting in the village of Whaley Thorns, over 100 residents and
local health workers heard that United Health has no experience of
running primary care. John Lister from 'Keep our NHS Public' told the
meeting that they scored zero on seven of the 11 criteria drawn up for
So why did North Derbyshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) choose this
company's European subsidiary, UHE, beating 18 tenders - some from
well-respected local GPs? UHE's Chief Executive is Simon Smith, formerly
Blair's health adviser, who drew up government policies at 10 Downing
Street. Now he's moved out to line his own pockets from them.
John Lister said that the government was re-creating an internal
market in the NHS. PCTs were being merged and would control large sums
of public money. In Oxfordshire, the government tried to privatise all
the PCTs with a combined budget of £600 million. Every county and city
has similar sums to spend.
UHE and other corporations want to "funnel public funds into their
coffers" and taking over these general practices gets UHE's foot in the
door - "a sprat to catch a mackerel"
UHE promised that it would improve services but several people
described the lack of service for several years since their old GPs
retired. Any service in their village would be an improvement and it
didn't need a US company to run it for profit.
Dr. Phil Greville, secretary to the Derbyshire Local Medical
Committee representing GPs, was applauded when he said he hadn't voted
at the last election as "there was no party standing socialist enough
Most people saw that this giant corporation were only out for
themselves and their shareholders. An ex-miner said: "An American, Ian
MacGregor, took our jobs away [closing the pits]. Now another American
company is taking us to our graves."
As a Socialist Party member said, what we need now is a campaign to
be set up and linked with the many other local campaigns fighting to
save the NHS.