24 Aug 2006

Battle won against NHS privatisation

This is an important battle won, the company involved pays it's CEO disgusting amounts of money,
In 2005, William W. McGuire, M.D., its CEO, earned $124 million. His compensation in the five years 2001-2005 was $341 million. He has been the CEO since 1989, when annual revenues were just over $400 million.

PENSIONER WINS GP PRIVATISATION BATTLE AT COURT OF APPEAL*

*Pam Smith has today won her appeal to prevent a US healthcare
corporation from running a GP surgery in Derbyshire*. Lord Justices
Keene and May quashed the selection of United Health Europe – the
British arm of America’s biggest healthcare corporation – to run the
practice, and ordered North Eastern Derbyshire primary care trust to
start the tendering process from scratch. They also awarded Pam Smith
100 per cent of the costs.

The decision is a stunning victory for a pensioner who dared to stand up
to the might of the government, the NHS and a multi-national
corporation. It is a blow for the government’s reform programme of
bringing in private companies to run GP services, and may discourage
other private companies from involvement in the scheme.

The case provides a precedent for other communities facing similar
situations. It has established that patients have a legal right to be
involved and consulted on plans for changes. In a number of other cases,
communities have been opposed to the notion of profit-making companies
running their family doctor surgeries.

*Pam Smith said:* “This just shows what people power can do. It was a
real case of David and Goliath. I feel like I’m on a high. I would love
to be a fly on Patricia Hewitt’s wall now – she keeps saying patients
have a choice; well we’ve made our choice. United Health would only have
taken profits. We will keep our NHS public, not private – that’s what
makes Britain unique.”

*Alex Nunns of Keep Our NHS Public said:* “This is a complete and total
victory, and a vindication for Pam and her community, who have
tirelessly fought against their GP surgery being handed over to a giant
American corporation. It is also a model for other communities having
this forced on them in the government’s drive to privatise the NHS.
Thanks to Pam, they now have a clear legal right to be heard.

“People are rightly suspicious of profit-making companies taking over
their family doctor surgeries. They fear that the standard of care will
decline, and that shareholders will be put before patients. If ‘patient
choice’ is to mean anything at all, the NHS must listen to these
concerns, and stop imposing the private sector on unwilling communities.”

CONTACTS:
*Alex Nunns* 07763 607 528, konp.press@virgin.net

*Pam Smith* 01623 743 460
*Elizabeth Barrett* (Derbyshire GP, Robin Hood KONP) 07779 082 037
*Richard Stein* (Pam Smith’s lawyer) 02076501243

NOTES:
1. North-Eastern Derbyshire Primary Care Trust chose UnitedHealth Europe
as its ‘preferred bidder’ to run the Creswell Primary Care Centre in
December last year. It provoked uproar among the local community –
especially in the village of Langwith, which has a branch of the
Creswell centre – who accused the PCT of privatising their GP service
against their wishes. At a judicial review in June, a judge ruled that
the PCT did have an obligation to consult the community, meaning it had
acted unlawfully. However, he ruled against Pam Smith on the
technicality that she should have taken an “alternative remedy” before
bringing a judicial review. In recognition of that fact that “on the
main issues she was successful,” the judge awarded Smith 75% of the costs.

2. Upon winning the appeal, Pam Smith was awarded 100% of the costs of
both hearings. The judges found that the alternative remedy of the
patients’ forum was not appropriate since is it not in a position to
judge law and has no real power over the PCT. The appeal court judges
also ruled that the original judge, Mr Justice Collins, was wrong to say
that the selection of United Health would have been the same even if the
PCT had consulted.

3. The Court of Appeal has quashed the selection of UnitedHealth Europe
and ordered the tender to be reopened. The PCT is required to involve
and consult the local community on its plans. This has serious
implications for government policy. January’s health white paper set out
plans to open up primary care to the market by encouraging private
companies to run GP surgeries and allowing them control of commissioning
budgets. But in a number of areas the policy has met opposition from
patients.

4. The Department of Health viewed the case so seriously it intervened
in the proceedings, arguing against its own rhetoric of patient choice
that there was no need to consult the community.



Alex Nunns
Information Officer
Keep Our NHS Public
07763607528
konp.press@virgin.net
www.keepournhspublic.com

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