Private Eye on American Health Company’s Closure of British GPs’ Surgeries

Last year the American healthcare company, UnitedHealth, was in the news after it sold off three doctors’ surgeries in Camden to another healthcare company, The Practice, leaving 4,700 patients without a doctor. The Eye covered the story in their 15th June to 28th June edition. Here it is

Closing Down Sale

NHS officials have admitted they were powerless to prevent American health giant UnitedHealth from suddenly flogging off its privately run GP surgeries in north London to another firm – leading to 4,700 patients losing their doctors.

An inquiry set up by Camden council heard how bosses at the North Central London NHS sector trust contacted lawyers over last year’s sale to The Practice Plc but were told the deal was legal – thanks to a flaw in the contract. As a result, the new operators had not been vetted by their NHS paymasters, patients were not informed at any stage and there was no tendering process. One practice closed altogether, with patients being allocated new doctors miles away or being left to find their own.

The alternative provider of medical services (APMSO contracts by which United secured three Camden practices were brought in as part of New Labour’s health reforms designed to ramp up competition in the NHS. Under “goodwill” regulations, practices were not supposed to be able to be sold on in this way, but as the Camden inquiry has shown these regulations are not worth the paper they were written on.

Eye readers may recall that UnitedHealth won the contract five years ago byu undercutting the local GPs’ bid by 25 per cent – and undercutting the services.

The inquiry heard that since UnitedHealth took over there has been an unexplained and curious decline in recorded illnesses such as depression, cancer and respiratory disease. As Camden doctors’ representative Dr Paddy Glackin told the inquiry: “Either patients have become much healthier or these conditions are not being identified.” He suggested the high turnover of locum doctors and loss of long-standing GPs after UnitedHealth arrived could explain the mysterious disappearance of the illnesses in one of Camden’s most deprived wards.

Neither UnitedHealth nor the Practice agreed to give evidence to the inquiry, which poses a question: as Andrew Lansley’s health reforms dramatically increase the role of private companies’ in running the NHS, how will they be held to account.’

This is the future of the NHS under Lansley’s reforms. Private healthcare firms are primarily interested in making a profit, not in effectively treating disease. They should not be involved in the NHS.

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One Response to “Private Eye on American Health Company’s Closure of British GPs’ Surgeries”

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie Says:


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