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Independents' Day

This private sector malignancy is spreading too far

Dr David Turner

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The recent news that Virgin Care has been awarded £2 billion worth of NHS contracts over the past 5 years will come as no surprise to those, like me, who have lamented the largely unheralded encroachment of the private sector into NHS care.

Like a particularly furtive cancer, private providers have sneaked their tendrils everywhere and are gradually developing a grip on the supposedly state controlled service, which once established you can be sure they won’t release.

Cancer is a perfect analogy for private sector creep, as like a malignancy, private providers began by taking over ‘less essential’ services like hospital car parking, catering and cleaning. Similarly, like an early cancer, chopping it out at this early stage would have had minimal impact on the rest of the NHS. A bit like lopping off a bowel polyp or suspicious looking skin mole.

The next stage is encroachment into more important areas such as child vaccines, community services and prison health care, the stage we have reached now. Although still reversible, like a patient having a loop of bowel excised, there will be some permanent consequences.

A palliative dose of radiotherapy and TLC will soon be the only treatment left

Left untreated for much longer though and the private provider cancer will continue to spread to the most important parts of the health service such as emergency care, obstetrics, paediatrics and surgery – and then it will be too late. A palliative dose of radiotherapy and TLC will be the only treatment left, as we watch the NHS signs removed and replaced by the logos of multinationals on our healthcare establishments.

Does this really matter people ask? As long as patients are getting treated, who really cares who is providing the care as long as it is provided?

Well, yes, it does matter. The private sector and cancer share two other important goals in common: growth and domination. Left unchecked neither will stop until it has achieved total control of its host. Let’s not forget, the NHS was established so that the poor no longer had to pay private hospitals and doctors individually for their care.

The corporate sector might promise the world but we should remember, behind all the gloss and promise it has only one ultimate aim – to make money for its shareholders. Is this the ethic that should be underpinning the decision making of those in charge of a public-funded health service?

Dr David Turner is a GP in north-west London

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Readers' comments (8)

  • The oncogenes in HMG and NHSE are to blame.
    Systemic chemotherapy?

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  • On closer inspection Conservative Party policy is poorly differentiated with hugely metastatic potential.
    Excise them now.

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  • I never thought I would say this but VOTE LABOUR 😱

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  • Will never vote conservative while I have breath in my body,they are weak greedy and not even economically competent.Any party with an average member age of 75,is very likely to become extinct.

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  • AlanAlmond

    I couldn’t bring my self to vote conservative despite being a demographic socioeconomic conservative dead cert. I couldn’t vote labour either, they will bring ruin. The liberal party? Who the hell are they and what do they represent...I’ve no idea, oh yes they want to have another referendum now I remember. Do they have any other ideas, who can say. The sad fact is I wouldn’t vote for any of them...but that’s a cop out isn’t it, got to vote for someone. Who though ...dunno. I think this cancer is going to be hard to beat. I think the Labour Party however would be sure to bring on an immunocomprimised massive multi organ sepsis and death, from a massive over dose of cytotoxic anti cancer medication.

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  • Tories will not see power again for a very long time after the shambles that is Brexit comes home to roost. Imminent return to the 70s folks.

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  • Are you serious?
    GPs are private subcontractors whp traded out the ability to sell goodwill for the pension scheme
    Drugs appliances Buildings are delivered by the private sector.
    Heat light phones and IT is delivered by the private sector.
    Pretty much everything you use day to day to help patients was made improved and developed by the private sector.
    The NHS is a massive politically driven Monopoly, a deliverer of pensions and human resources all it does is facilitated by the Private sector of which you are a part.
    You want to live your dream try Venezuela or Russia.
    Sadly even most of our NHS colleagues are setting up private companies. Th nearest we have to true public sector workers are NHS England admin staff -- and hows that turned out?

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  • Got to disagree with bap. Where there is choice the market works and private prevails. All you achieve by handing over health services to private enterprises is to create an instant monopoly, which predictably gets exploited.

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