Salisbury NHS Watch – Update

Not much to report, but the following updates may be of interest:

Virgin Care to take over children’s health services in Devon: As reported here previously, we already have fifteen GP surgeries in Wiltshire  partnered to Richard Branson’s “Virgin Care” and a GP from one of those surgeries appointed as Chairman of the new Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group.  So it may be of interest that Virgin Care have been named preferred bidder in a £130m deal that will see the privatisation of children’s health services in Devon.  See here for details.  It seems like Serco and Virgin have privatisation of the NHS in the South pretty well sown up.

It is important to point out that concern about companies like Serco, A4E, G4S, and Virgin Care taking over the running of our public services is not part of some left wing ideological agenda.  If the NHS were out sourcing parts of its work to small or medium sized, home grown businesses or organisations that are part of our community and have a track record of providing a quality service for a responsible and reasonable rate of remuneration then there would be no need for concern. But, in reality our services are being taken over by large national and international corporations that do not have a promising track record – they are essentially in the business of making large profits by employing members of our own community (Cameron’s hard working families) on lower pay with poorer employment conditions while providing the minimum service they can get away with.  Remember that these organisations will be signed up on confidential contracts, protected by commercial confidentiality and will not be open to Freedom of Information requests – they will be pretty much unaccountable and if things go wrong it will be the remnants of the NHS plus tax payers money that will be left with the problem. (Breast implant scandal: 3,500 private clinic patients referred to NHS)

Senior staff could be moved out of the ‘Agenda for Change’ pay framework under proposals devised by NHS Employers. Unfortunately this article is behind a pay wall but I suspect that the article will confirm what we already know – that regional pay for NHS staff (i.e. lower pay for everyone except for those who work in wealthy high pay areas) will not apply to the senior managers.  Sounds like a good way to encourage loyalty and enthusiasm from the staff or is it just a way to smooth the transition to the lower pay of Serco and Virgin Care?

Salisbury NHS Watch

First Chair of new Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is a senior GP from a Virgin Care ‘Partner’ Surgery

The first chair of the new Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is a medical director from the old NHS PCT and a senior GP from a Virgin Care ‘Partner’ Surgery

Trowbridge GP Stephen Rowlands has been a senior partner at the Bradford Road surgery for 27 years and served as the medical director of Wiltshire’s Primary Care Trust for the past year.  “I am very keen to support the transition from PCT to clinical commissioning as smoothly as possible,” the doctor said. (‘This is Bath’, Monday 7th May 2012)

This looks reassuring – hopefully a GP led CCG will avoid the worst excesses of the governments top down NHS “reforms” to be seen elsewhere in the country.

But just one word of caution, Dr Rowland’s Bradford Road Surgery, is  a Virgin Care ‘Partner’. When Richard Branson took over ‘Assura‘ he inevitably gained access to hundreds of GPs who were joining CCGs across the country as part of the government’s reform programme.  There are already fifteen surgeries in Wiltshire that are Virgin Care ‘Partners’ so there is a possibility that there are more Virgin Care ‘Partners’ in the Wiltshire CCG.  Is this a good thing?? What does being a Virgin Care ‘Partner’ mean?? Is there a potential for a conflict of interest?? Who knows??  However, it does look like Virgin Care have got off to a good start in Wiltshire.

‘This is Bath’, Monday 7th May 2012

‘Virgin Care’ partners in Wiltshire

Conflict of interest fears in NHS shakeup plans

Is Virgin Care set to take control of NHS services in Andy Burnham’s own constituency?