The decision by David Cameron and his advisers to exclude the NHS from his top 6 priorities as announced on Monday was yet another indication of how important health is to our election, albeit as a consequence of its absence. This comes hot on the heels of the disastrous news from Hinchingbrooke at the end of the previous week. Whatever the reason for the policy gap when compared to 5 years ago when the NHS was Camerons top priority, the news from Cambridge is very disturbing for local residents who may not be too concerned regarding who runs the hospital, but do want a functioning effective place to care for their injuries and diseases. Any major organisational change at a hospital is bound to lead to disruption and create challenges for staff and patients alike. This news has come at a time of year when services are already under intense pressure and it is clearly vital that local civic leaders rally round and reassure residents and visitors that their needs will be met. However on Friday Morning on Radio 4 Today, Jonathan Djanogly did not refer to patients apart from in the context of how much better things had been since Circle took over. He did however suggest that the departing organisation had been forced to cope with very difficult circumstances and that the contract they had taken on with its attendant cost implications would need to be looked at again. This appeared to be a strange response when the commercial organisation had just broken their contract with the NHS and with local people. Bizarrely the Hinchingbrooke hospital still shows up on the circle website as though nothing had happened.
It was only later in the day and over the weekend that the links between the Conservative Party and one of its MPs emerged, although they are not new revelations and indeed it is disturbing how little attention the broadcasters seem to have given to the response from MPs such as Jonathan. The panel above provides a suggestion that Investors who control 80% of Circle Healthcare have between them gifted £1M to the party and then the following from the register of interests of one of the party members.
Mark Simmonds MP Boston & Skegness – Strategic adviser to Circle Healthcare (social enterprise), 42 Welbeck Street, London W1. Ceased 4 September 2012 on Ministerial appointment.
- June 2012, £12,500 quarterly fee received. Hours: 10 hrs per month. (Registered 26 July 2012)
- 5 October 2012, £8,890 received for the period 1 July 2012 to 4 September 2012. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 16 October 2012)
There is at times a false dichotomy between public run and private run services. However it is clear that the ability of powerful and wealthy financiers to influence public policy makers and the inference that they could possibly change procurement outcomes must be ended. The easiest way of achieving that would be to end once and for all the distorted mechanisms for the funding of our two largest political parties. That won’t resolve all of the problems in the nations healthcare but it would avoid the risk of peoples health being a lower priority than the wealth of rich men.