Last Thursday, the I newspaper carried a story about private companies being paid millions of taxpayers’ money to check doctor’s referrals of patients to hospitals. Yet these centres, run by private healthcare firms, aren’t at all new. They’re mentioned in Alyson M. Pollock’s and David Price’s chapter, ‘From Cradle to Grave’ in NHS – SOS, edited by Jacky Davis & Raymond Tallis, published in 2013. Pollock and Price write
Increasingly, general practice and commissioning functions will be operated and managed by for-profit companies, twenty three of which – including well-established outfits Virgin Care, Care UK and ChilversMcCrae Healthcare – already run 227 general practices. Professional autonomy will be eroded if, for example, referral management centres run by corporate providers are used to ensure referral and prescribing practices conform to corporate budgets and the needs of shareholders. These centres were already rejecting one in eight general practitioner referrals before the full force of the new health law has been felt, and they seem to be operating along the lines of American-style ‘prior authorisation’ arrangements, whereby doctors are required to obtain approval from a higher authority (usually a private health insurance provider) before making a referral for treatment or investigation. Some of the centres, such as UnitedHealth Group UK’s recently established ‘referral facilitation service’ based in Hounslow, are run by subsidiaries of US healthcare multinationals. (pp. 191-2).
Of course, this also shows how fake the Tory claim of giving patients more ‘choice’ in their healthcare actually is. And contrary to another grotty Tory claim, it’s another layer of bureaucracy actually put into the NHS to make it attractive to private contractors.
The whole process of privatisation needs to be reverse. Now. The only political leader determined to do it is Jeremy Corbyn, but you won’t know this from the hysterical denunciations of him for being ‘Trotskyite’ from Blairites and the mainstream press, including the I.
Tags: 'From Cradle to Grave', 'I' Newspaper, 'NHS - SOS', 'Referral Facilitation Service, Alyson M. Pollock, Care UK, ChilversMcCrae Healthcare, Conservatives, David Price, Hounslow, Jacky Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, NHS, Private Healthcare Companies, Privatisation, Raymond Tallis, tony blair, UnitedHealth Group UK, Virgin Care