Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Private Control of NHS Hospitals?

No way would the current Assembly Government ever consider allowing private companies to run NHS Hospitals in Wales. But amazingly, a Labour Health Secretary is reported as suggesting that this is what the current Labour Government is planning to do in England. I really do find this announcement to be hard to believe. Can't help but think its Prime Minister Brown flying a kite, trying to appeal to what is usually referred to as the Blairite wing of his party. And even though this applies in England, it matters to Wales. I live in Wales, but the NHS Trusts which deliver most of the elective treatment to Montgomeryshire are located in England. Must admit that I don't think it will happen under Gordon Brown's watch though.

Now, while I have no philosophical antipathy to the private sector running hospitals, I'm really not sure that the British people are ready for such a radical move. There's certainly been a very negative reaction to today's story from doctors, patient groups and academics. I don't agree with their knee jerk denigration of the private sector. While I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable about the implications of all this to declare any support for it, I do think there's an entirely sound philosophical argument to be made in favour of what the Minister has said. The usual accusation is that the needs of shareholders would be put before vital patient services. If the involvement of the private sector were to be unfettered, I would understand this concern, but I'd expect any role for the private sector's involvement to be accompanied by a strong regulatory role for the commissioning public sector. In my opinion uncontrolled bureaucracy has every bit as much capacity to consume resources as unfettered capitalism. But then, this is probably all academic, because its so unlikely to happen. Interesting story though.


johnny foreigner said...

Glyn, you said.....

"Private Control of NHS Hospitals?

No way would the current Assembly Government ever consider allowing private companies to run NHS Hospitals in Wales."

If that be the case, I wonder why Edwina Hart AM, our Health Minister, has appointed Prof. Mansel Aylward to investgate and pronounce his recommendations for a reconfiguration of NHS Services in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.

You may recall that I informed you previously of his close association with the "outlaw" American Insurance Company UNUM. Has your researcher provided you with the 'UNUM paper' yet?

It now transpires that the Prof. is also a Director and Board Member of the Private Venture Capital Company, ARKAGA, who have a particular liking for Private Health Care provision, particularly having exercised their 'skills' in "leveraged buy-outs".

As a matter of information, ARKAGA have interests in the following:


Maybe it's worthwhile remembering these names as they may be heard of again in terms of 'preferred bidders'.

As the good Professor has hardly any experience in NHS reconfiguration matters, it often makes me wonder what he has to offer to the WAG, apart from his experience and expertise in the provision and sales of PRIVATE Health Care.

Could this be a clear 'conflict of interests'?

Just a thought.

Your pal.


Glyn Davies said...

Johnny - and a very interesting thought too. Actually the person doing my research didn't deliver much. Thanks for the reminder. It does all sound a bit fishy.

johnny foreigner said...

Absolutely kippers.

At the very least your researcher should have confirmed the "outlaw" status of UNUM and the facts regarding their Court convictions and massive fines and Mansel's close associations with them.

A quick look at my blog, under the 'pies' heading, will provide further interesting reading regarding ARKAGA, via links.

Naturally, my blog comes in a plain brown wrapper and anonymous visitors are welcomed.

We can't have folks admitting that they have visited can we?

Your pal.


Anonymous said...

Of course the private sector should run hospitals. And as much else as possible too. Over the last 11 years we've seen shedloads of taxpayers' money poured into public services, with little or no improvement to show for it. Most of our hospitals are riddled with MRSA and C. Diff.

In Wales, it's even worse. WE wait longer than anyone else and have inferior service. Edwina Hart or whoever is supposed to be in charge couldn't run a whelk stall, let alone a health service.

Roll on the Tory revolution. It's coming, bro, it's coming!

glyn james said...

Quite right! It's ridiculous to have someone like that in charge of important public services. She would be out of her depth in a medium sized parish council.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, with a bit of luck the tories will scrap the assembly and restore a bit of sense to public services.

Glyn Davies said...

anon 1 - I have no principled objection to the private sector taking over a hospital with appropriate safegaurds, but I still cannot see it happening in Wales.

Glyn - In my opinion Edwina Hart is as good as any of the Assembly Government Ministers. Not sure what thats saying. Please don't shoot yourself.

anon - as far as I know the Consevative Party Leadership has ruled out any consideration of scrapping the Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Policy can change, Glyn. We must hope it does.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Policy can indeed change, and suddenly. Up to three years ago my position (on devolution) was that abolition was preferred to the half way house we have at present. Overnight, this approach became outwith party policy. It could change back, but I just don't think it will, particularly since it is now becoming a law making parliament. I do try to be realistic in my personal policy positions, and always try to finesse any personal beliefs so as not to conflict with party policy.

Anonymous said...

I suspect a policy announcement may well give a lot of Tories new heart.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - above my pay grade I'm afraid.

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