Money, money, money… it rules a Tory’s world!

As Powerbase, in association with SpinWatch, have recently released the links between private healthcare companies and the government, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the overflowing safes of Care UK, Spire, Pfizer and the like.

Care UK

Alan Milburn: the former Labour health secretary and more recently, an adviser to the coalition government.

As being an MP only brings you in £65,738 a year, supplementing your income is a must. Mr Milburn’s answer; being an advisor to Bridgepoint Capital who, coincidentally, own Care UK, with a deal worth €491m. On their website they describe Care UK as:  “a leading provider of health and social care services, working with local authorities and the UK’s NHS to provide a range of outsourced services including residential, community, specialist, primary and secondary healthcare.” They also describe the business as having a diverse and robust growth platform with long-term opportunities in residential care due to the increasing trend for outsourcing of healthcare.  

John Nash is the ex-chair of Care UK and has been donating money to the Tory party for the last 5 years. £10,000 in 2006 and £21,000 directly to Andrew Lansley in 2009. He also sits on the board for Centre for Policy Studies.

United Health

UnitedHealth UK is part of UnitedHealth Group, one of the most successful global health and well-being companies. They work in close partnership with all levels of the NHS, including Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities, GP Commissioning Groups and the Department of Health.

Their website boasts that their global expertise and experience is able to support the NHS in delivering high quality and cost effective health care and improve the lives and well-being of patients. Leading edge information technology, analytics, consulting and health management solutions help to drive improvements in health outcomes using the most clinically and cost effective evidence base.

Tony Sampson is currently the external affairs manager for United Health, where he is responsible for branding and marketing, corporate communications, and development of strategies to meet the needs of government health policy. He also happens to be Alan Milburn’s ex-private secretary and a former No. 10 health advisor.

Simon Stevens is European president for United Health, which in 2002 got its first NHS contract; the same period as he was advising Tony Blair as the architect of New Labour NHS reforms, whereby there would be market-style reforms and privatisation. He also sits on the board of trustees for The Kings Fund, who agree the charity’s strategic direction and scrutinise management functions. As the King’s Fund remit is to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change, he has the power to alter the direction that is advised to the government.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is a not-for-profit medical insurance company based in the US. There have been discussions that their high professional staff quota and shorter waiting times are more cost-effective than the NHS, and so a pilot scheme has been carried out by The King’s Fund to investigate these claims, the results due out in September.

Penny Dash is both a former adviser to Kaiser Permanente and is the vice-chancellor to the board of trustees at The King’s Fund. Alongside Simon Stevens she helped to develop New Labour’s NHS plan and has fingers in other private healthcare providers too, such as McKinsey & Co and pharmaceutical companies.


McKinsey are a management consultancy firms with areas of expertise in health systems, payors and providers and hospitals. Have assisted governments in building and improving their healthcare systems and improve health outcomes through policy and reorganisation to increase access to health services, improve quality of care and effectively use resources. Restructuring levels of management, increasing organisational effectiveness and development of insurance products are there main levels of engagement with payors. Their key areas when working with hospitals are managerial issues and provider- and physician-owned plans.

Not only do they happen to have Penny Dash onside but David Bennett too as a previous employee for 18 years. A former Blair adviser he is now the chief executive of Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts and a key part in the NHS reforms.

Spire Healthcare

Is advised by Cinven for which Patricia Hewitt, former health secretary under Tony Blair, is an adviser to. Not only does she advise Cinven but is also a consultant at Boots UK. With juggling all of these jobs you’d need somebody to advise you too, so Patricia has Matthew Swindells.

Matthew Swindells does like to dabble with his jobs and has been employed by the Department of Health, NHS IT services and was the head of health at Tribal, a private company that specialises in providing professional services to the UK healthcare system to improve commissioning and service provision. Now, alongside his advisory role to Hewitt, he is the Senior Executive at Cerner, the Health IT giant.

Tribal and Roche are both fundamental players in the policy exchange part of the reforms process. With Tribal supporting the development of NHS staff to learn new skills and supporting GP-led commissioning consortia they are endorsed by the Department of Health and Monitor to perform these advisory roles to the NHS, for a fee of course. Roche has expertise in diagnostics and pharmaceuticals with contributions to the detection (screening) and prevention of diseases, one of Andrew Lansley’s top public health points.

General Healthcare Group

General Healthcare Group (GHG) is the leading provider of independent health care services in the UK. They have recently published a document detailing some options that they feel would benefit the UK healthcare system, private providers being one of the major points.

Any surprises then that Lord Norman Warner, a previous health minister crucial during Tony Blair’s office in both implementing reforms and acting within the Department of Health, is also an ex-adviser to Apax Partners, the owners of GHG.

Peter Gershon also happens to chair GHG and last year during the election campaigns was advising the Tory government  as to how best to cut up to £4bn worth of public services.


Provide audit, tax and advisory services and have recently been helping the public sector with managing their financial restraints as imposed by the current government.

Gary Belfield left the Department of Health, where he was director general of commissioning and system management, last year to take up a post at KPMG where he followed in the footsteps of his Department of Health predecessor, Mark Britnell.


Circle is an independent social enterprise providing healthcare at a price. Their website looks snazzy and they promise a 5-star service and hospitality.

Nick Seddon used to head communications at Circle but is now the deputy-director of the independent thinktank Reform. Others with their noses in Reform are GHG and Paul Charlson, the chair of the conservative medical society, the Doctors for Reform group and also sits on the 2020health board. Whilst Christina Lineen took Nick’s place at head of communications for Circle after the most recent general election, prior to which she was an aide to Andrew Lansley.


One of the government’s independent thinktanks, just like Reform, they focus on health and technology policies with their core research themes being innovation, accountability, information and partnership. It was set up by Julia Manning, who left her job in the NHS to work full-time at 2020Health. She is also an adviser to the government and in early 2010 suggested to the Tory party that all minor treatments in the UK such as fertility treatments and treatment for varicose veins and acne should not be available on the NHS and that drunk or patients addicted to drugs should be fined.

Tom Sackville chairs 2020Health, and used to be a health minister under Thatcher’s government. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Lilly also play a part in funding and advising at 2020Health.

We knew that things with the private sector were bad, but with this many fingers in this many pies, they are gaining more control. We have learnt from previous experiences, with previous public services, that privatisation is not cost-effective and does not improve services. We absolutely cannot let this happen to our health service.

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6 Responses to Money, money, money… it rules a Tory’s world!

  1. Good summary. Here’s a bit more about Circle.

    Their website point out that 50.1% of their shares are held by City investors, so that means that less than half of their shares are held by employees, hence they are NOT employee owned. This means they are not a mutual. Also, they operate profit share so they are NOT a social enterprise (a social enterprise is not-for-profit, and all surpluses are re-invested into the business, not distributed as profit-share). Another interesting bit of info from their website is that Circle do not own their hospitals. Their hospitals are owned by a separate for-profit company. Both Circle and the property company are run by Ali Parsa, who tours the TV studios telling people that Circle is a social enterprise (it isn’t) and omits to mention his real business which is property development. Very dodgy

  2. anna says:

    thanks – this is so very smelly it’s a stinky stench! So where are the country’s investigative journalists ? So where is the supine media these days ? The King’s Fund trumpets itself as independent when it clearly isn’t. These politicos have sold each and everyone of us out.
    Feeling powerless and disenfranchised by which ever political party is in power. A win win situation for the private sector as the tax payer i.e. YOU and ME pick up the tab when it all goes wrong.

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  5. Tim Smith says:

    Thank you for this article. Very well put together.
    This is further evidence of the ‘West’ proving itself to be a bunch of massive hypocrites, preaching to Russia, China, African governments about diplomacy and illegitamate government!
    The worst thing is that I imagine this is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of private companies leeching government money from healthcare.
    Fine examples of capitalism at its best(/worst), these people need an urgent dose of humanity!

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