The independent London newspaper

Privatisation threat to GP surgeries

18 February, 2021

‘We have a government whose intent appears to be the privatisation of the NHS’

• A WARNING by Professor Allyson Pollock, an eminent public health specialist, this week that some 49 GP surgeries in the London area are to be taken over by the US corporation Centene comes as no surprise, (The great GP surgery takeover: US giant seizes five practices in Camden, February 18).

Operose Health Ltd, owned by Centene, will have jurisdiction over 370,000 patients in 19 London boroughs, in effect controlling access to GPs.

CCGs, clinical commissioning groups, were the last bastion against this mega-takeover, with the power to halt these contracts.

Now, though, the government finds it necessary to unveil yet another blueprint for the National Health Service that includes the abolition of the CCGs.

This is worrying. Many of us will remember the collapse of United Health’s efforts in a GP surgery in Camden Square several years ago when the NHS doctors’ competing tender was rejected.

The surgery subsequently collapsed, leaving thousands of patients high and dry as they were left to be absorbed by neighbouring practices.

We have a government whose intent appears to be the privatisation of the NHS and, make no bones about it, this 2021 “reorganisation” is intended to be the next (and final?) stage in this, as revealed by Jeremy Corbyn in a leaked document in 2019.

As an NHS hospital doctor for 25 years, watching the advent of marketisation in 1990, the abolition of the community health councils, the loss of strategic health authorities, the creation of the CCGs, the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, it is sad to see the possibility of a privatised NHS come closer.

In the interim, patients are totally unaware with only the occasional Cassandra, like Professor Allyson Pollock, shouting at the gates of Troy.

Which surgery will be the next to collapse? And who will be left paying a fee to see their GP if patients end up getting the thin end of the corporate wedge?

Consultant Ophthalmologist, NW1


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