Private Company Beds for the pandemic: Are there strings attached?

Doctors for the NHS has joined with other health campaigning groups nationally to sign a letter to the Minister for Health, Matt Hancock, asking for assurances about NHS provision with private beds during the pandemic crisis.

The letter reads:

‘Dear Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care,

Thank you for bringing private healthcare capacity into public control to tackle the coronavirus crisis. Thiswas exactly what needed to be done. This vital boost to beds, staff and intensive care equipment will save more lives, plain and simple.

We’re happy to hear you recognise that no one should be profiting off our collective illness. We’ve seen reports that ‘no profit will be made’ by companies, but now we need to see the deal. 

That’s why we’re demanding that this ‘deal’ be made public, every dot and comma of it. You have stated that it will be done with “Open book” accounting, and external auditors verifying the public money being used. But we deserve to see what is being contracted to private companies here, including staffing arrangements. As Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs offer their hotels to NHS staff for free, we repeat no profit should be made in this arrangement.

Over 17,000 NHS beds have gone since 2010, meaning patients were already being sent to private hospitals for treatment, channeling cash and vital NHS staff to private companies. NHS capacity must be expanded to serve our communities: it is not there to prop up private companies.

This experience has taught us that we are all in this together, and that our NHS is a vital life saving organ looking after our health together, no matter whether you can pay.

To keep our NHS intact at the end of this, we ask that you pledge:

  • That this ‘deal’ be made public, every dot and comma of it.
  • To end all of these contracts after this crisis. We know that private companies are hungry for long term NHS contracts. This means chunks out of the NHS budget are given to companies who in turn take profits, wasting money and fragmenting our health service. We do not want privatisation by stealth.
  • Reinstate our NHS by ending all privatisation across the service as soon as this is over.
  • The people of the UK demand their NHS has adequate funding and capacity to guarantee proper staffing and the beds required to treat people, so that the long term crisis in our health can end.

This crisis, that grips our families and friends every day, has shown that the NHS needed more capacity to deal with this in the first place. We hope to work with you to do this in the coming years.’


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