Campaigners will protest against a takeover of dozens of GP practices by a company with ownership ties to a US healthcare giant.
Local demonstrations are to take place this afternoon at London practices run by Operose Health, which is a subsidiary of US healthcare firm Centene.
Earlier this year the company acquired 58 GP practices across England, including 37 based in London, after a controversial takeover of the sites from previous owners AT Medics.
Prior to the takeover, Operose Health ran 21 APMS GP practices across London, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Luton and several other parts of England, but the deal now makes it the largest provider of GP services in the country, with 530,000 patients.
Campaign group Doctors in Unite is taking part in the accompanying protest outside Operose Health’s headquarters in central London today.
It said the takeover is ‘another prime example of the accelerating privatisation of the NHS by stealth’, stating ‘now is a time to draw a line in the sand’.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also due to join the central London demonstration, which will take place at 3pm, while local protests occur outside practices according to the ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ campaign group.
Doctors in Unite chair Dr Jackie Applebee said: ‘Ministers and senior NHS executives have repeatedly mouthed the mantra that the NHS is not being privatised.
‘But now we have the case of a huge swathe of English general practices, including the data of nearly half a million patients, being handed over to US health insurance giant Centene – with a breath-taking lack of transparency and openness.’
Dr Applebee added: ‘There is a world of difference between a multinational corporation that operates to make a profit, often by cutting staff and services, so that it can pay dividends to shareholders, and local GPs who are very much part of the NHS “family” and provide services from a budget fixed by the Treasury.’
‘Now is a time to draw a line in the sand to preserve and cherish the NHS as an organisation free at the point of delivery to all those in need.’
An Operose Health spokesperson said: ‘Operose Health shares NHS values, provides NHS services and cares for NHS patients. Like other NHS providers, our care is free at the point of delivery, regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission.’