Private Eye on New Labour’s Privatisation of NHS MRI Scanners

This is another very interesting piece from an old copy of Private Eye. In this case, it’s the issue for 17th – 30th September 2004, and it’s about how Blair’s health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted to deprive NHS hospitals of the necessary money for MRI scans, so that they’d have to call in private healthcare companies. The piece runs

It’s not just more time with his family that former health secretary Alan Milburn will be giving up in his new bespoke cabinet job. He will also forfeit the £30,000 a year he was earning as adviser to venture capital group, Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint owns Alliance Medical, which last month (three months after it signed Milburn up) won a £95m, five year contract to provide 12 mobile MRI scanners to ease NHs waiting lists.

An easier and cheaper option for health minister John Hutton, who happens to be Milburn’s best buddy, might have been to provide the funds to run the NHS’s own MRI scanners which often lie idle because of a lack of money or staff.

At Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, for example, two scanners are unused because of a shortage of radiologists. Instead patients have been scanned by mobile units from Alliance Medical  and Frenchay doctor’s aren’t happy; not just because of the waste, but because they aren’t themselves allowed to analyse the scans which are sent off to Belgium for examination.

A new £700,000 MRI scanner arrived at the Royal Boulton Hospital in January. But as Bolton South East MP Brian Iddon told the Eye: “It only runs six half days a week because the trust say they cannot afford the staff.” Mr Iddon said this is a scandal, even though he does not criticise the Alliance Medical contract.

A BBC survey has found that seven out of 19 hospitals given scanners from lottery  funds are also under using them because of money and staff shortages. But with Milburn in charge of election policy and his successor as Health Secretary, John Reid, looking to award even more private scanning contracts, this is the shape of things to come in the NHS.

“New market entrants will play an important role not only in providing additional new capacity, but also by acting as catalysts for innovation,” says Reid. In fact more privatisation will only make the NHS even more reliant on firms like Alliance – which is all in keeping with “new” Labour’s view of “NHS plc” as it is now called following publication of Professor Allyson Pollock’s new book on the erosion of the health service ideal.

This makes sense of something I noticed at Southmead hospital here in Bristol, when I was sent for a scan as part of my treatment in October last year 2017. Southmead’s an NHS hospital, but the scan was owned and operated by another company for the NHS. Just as Milburn wanted: he intended the NHS to be reduced to a kitemark on services provided by private companies.

I can’t fault the treatment by the scanning team, but I want these services in the NHS to be provided by the NHS itself. Outside private firms have no business providing them. And this piece also shows how we desperately need to elect Corbyn, in order to renationalise a truly working NHS.

Get Tweezer out of No. 10, the Tories out of government, and the Blairite’s out of the Labour party.


5 Responses to “Private Eye on New Labour’s Privatisation of NHS MRI Scanners”

  1. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating and commented:
    Deselect these bloody Blairite neoliberalist MP’s please.
    Unless we do the Labour Party cannot return to their true socialist ways.

  2. Private Eye on New Labour’s Privatisation of NHS MRI Scanners — Beastrabban’s Weblog | Indiĝenaj Inteligenteco Says:

    […] via Private Eye on New Labour’s Privatisation of NHS MRI Scanners — Beastrabban’s Weblog […]

  3. Julian Says:

    You haven’t blogged for awhile, Beastie. I hope you are well and the treatment is progressing as hoped. All the best, Julian

    • beastrabban Says:

      it’s been hard, Julian. The treatment has some very unpleasant side effects, but you are minutely monitored all the time and the care has been excellent, and the staff sympathetic and reassuring.

      I tried posting a few more pieces on my blog, but the hospital wifi system is not secure, and the system simply wouldn’t let me. Grrr!
      But hope to resume blogging soon!
      Thanks for your comments and support! 🙂

  4. MadManagement Says:

    Yep the neoliberal models runs through both parties see our blog:

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