Camden Keep Our NHS Public
Spreading the message about
the take-over of three Camden GPs' surgeries by the giant US
Protest at Whittington Hospital, 8 July 2008, before a lecture by UnitedHealth's
Dr Richard Smith (the three general practices in Camden taken over by the company
were transferred to another private health firm, the Practice plc in spring 2011)
The background story
In March 2007 Camden's Primary Care Trust held what was described as a consultation on bids to run three local general practices. The so-called consultation consisted of a letter that included a single sentence which said that Alternative Providers of Medical Services (APMS) were included among those eligible to tender for these practices. Nowhere else in the letter was it made clear that APMS's were likely to be profit-making companies.
A 28-page document the letter referred to was obtainable only on the council's website or (supposedly, but with some difficulty) by telephone request. The document was mainly about what type and level of services would need to be provided by the potential providers of general practice services. Very little of the document seemed to have anything to do with local patients and other residents, the vast majority of whom either never saw the document or, not surprisingly, thought it did not apply to them.
It wasn't until late February/early March 2008 that local people became aware of what was happening, thanks to letters and reports in the Camden New Journal. There were protests at a meeting of Camden's Health Scrutiny Committee on 4 March and a demonstration in Camden High Street on 8 March. Then at a packed meeting of the PCT board on 10 March a highly vocal group of angry residents attacked the PCT and representatives of the APMS that had been appointed.
A packed public meeting was held at Camden town hall on 25 March. It was agreed there to form a local group of the national organisation Keep Our NHS Public (see founding statement below ).
The protests were too late to stop the transfer of the three practices and on 1 April 2008 control of the Brunswick Centre, King's Cross and Camden Road practices passed to UnitedHealth, the UK branch of the giant American health insurance company, which has repeatedly been charged with fraud in the US and heavily fined for breaking the law.
For the activities of Camden KONP since March 2008, see the Events page.
STATEMENT AGREED AT MEETING ON 25 MARCH 2008
Stop the privatisation of doctors’ surgeries
KEEP CAMDEN GPs IN THE NHS
This meeting is opposed to Camden PCT’s proposal to transfer three GP surgeries in Camden (the Camden Road surgery, the King’s Cross Road practice and the Brunswick Centre) to United Health. United Health is one of the largest profit making medical company in the US, where health care is a multi billion dollar business.
It is reported the company plan to cut charges to less than £75 per patient, rather than the £100 budgeted by local doctors. The last thing Camden patients need is a private company only interested in breaking in to the British health care market.
We believe that private profit has no place in our National Health Service. It is a scandal this so called Labour government is selling off the NHS to companies such as United Health and Richard Branson’s Virgin, who are competing in the sell-off bonanza for GP services across the country.
1. We have no confidence in Camden Primary Care Trust and call on them to stop putting money before patient needs and to keep all Camden GPs within the NHS. a) We call on them to immediately put on hold their decision to transfer surgeries to United Health in order to investigate evidence of breaches in procedure in consulting with patients and the tendering process. b) We call on them to halt any further privatisation or private tendering of local GP services.
2. We pledge support for any patient who takes legal action against the PCT to halt the transfer.
3. We call on Camden council’s health scrutiny committee to hold an emergency meeting and take what ever action within their powers to halt the proposed transfer, including referring the matter to the Secretary of State.
4. We demand the Secretary of State for Health and the Prime Minister call a halt to this privatisation and keep our GPs local and in the NHS.
1. Get signatures on the petition to hand in to the Department of Health on 31 March 2008.
2. Sign the e-petition to 10 Downing Street at www://petitions.pm.gov.uk/localGP
3. Send protest to chair of Camden PCT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Join the protest at the Department of Health, Whitehall on Monday 31 March 5.30-6.30pm to hand in the petition to ministers.
5. Make a donation to the campaign.
6. Set up a Camden branch of Keep Our NHS Public.
Camden KONP is affiliated to the national campaign Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) (www.keepournhspublic.com).
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