In Health, Sickness & In Profit, by Michael Gold
In the old simplistic days of the NHS your doctor referred you to your local hospital. You were given a letter; you phoned the appropriate hospital department and made an appointment. Not now, as you can only be seen by a hospital if your GP has a contract with them or with, what is now known as, any qualified provider.
I am registered with my GP as wanting to be treated by the NHS only, not by private for profit providers. So needing an MRI scan on my back I was amazed to be told my GP did not have a contract with the local hospital, Whipps Cross in East London. It only had a contract with a private supplier, called In Health, and it was take it or leave it. Reluctantly, I agreed to have the scan by In Health.
Eventually, a large sheaf of paper arrived through the post, including a form for me to sign consenting to share my medical information with third parties. I had already signed that my GP and/or the NHS cannot share (sell) my medical information so I was certainly not going agree to In Health sharing my medical information.
When I arrived for the scan, I was astounded to find it was to take place in a trailer, in a public car park!! It was claustrophobic as soon as I entered.
I explained to the young man who saw me that I would not be able to sign the form and he conferred with the technicians and I was told no signature, no scan!! So I left and returned to my GP’s surgery.
It was then arranged that I would go to the Whipps Cross spinal clinic and they would order the scan at Whipps Cross Hospital. Does one department in a hospital have to have a contract with every other department?
The cost of this scan to the NHS, the taxpayer, will be much greater than if I had just been sent to Whipps Cross in the first place. Part of this extra cost will be borne by Whipps Cross, a hospital that is part of the Barts Foundation Trust, which includes the London Hospital and a massive PFI (Private Finance Initiative) debt that is already threatening Whipps Cross’s survival; but that is another story!
This is another example that privatisation, contracting-out, is not more efficient and does not save money because the administrative costs of tendering and chasing paper more than negate any savings. My frustration at the cheap and nasty service offered by In Health made me want to find out more about In Health.
A simple search showed that In Health is owned by the Damask Trust and a little more searching showed that the Damask Trust is owned by Ivan Bradbury (a sailor & businessman) and the Embleton Trust Corporation Ltd. In turn the Embleton Trust is owned by MacFarlanes Llp; a firm of international lawyers that offers, amongst other services, tax advice tax, that is avoiding paying tax.
In Health has a subsidiary, Preventicum, that carries out preventive diagnostics and questions of concern have been raised by Which magazine. They argue that tests “are likely to cause more harm than good, some give widely inconsistent results and little useful information and some detect disease when it’s not really there.” They add that “false results cause worry, more investigations and even unnecessary treatment – at a cost to the individual or National Health Service.”1
This scenario sounds suspiciously similar to the wasteful medical system in the USA, where health costs are 17.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).2 In the UK health costs were 7.9% of GDP for 2011/2012 but this figure should be seen in the context that at its inception the NHS costs were just 3.5% of GDP.3
The more companies like In Health are allowed to infiltrate the NHS, the more the costs will spiral to the taxpayer and the less that will be spent on actually treating patients.
If we have to have private qualified providers that qualified should include transparency on ownership, profits and, most importantly, tax paid. My belief is that the Damask Trust is set up for tax avoidance and that will remain my belief until In HeaIth, the Damask Trust, the Embleton Trust and MacFarlanes show otherwise.
Michael Gold has been involved in Occupy since November 2011 and blogs @ www.radicalsoapbox.com
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