NHS: The Great British Give-Away

Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, has consistently emphasized her political party’s commitment to ensuring the nation’s National Health Service is never privatized. It is, of course, a lie. The Tory Party has long been conspiring with American medical corporations, and their infiltration of NHS services has been both gradual and methodical.

A recent television documentary from the series, “Dispatches,” highlighted yet another ‘infiltration’. This time it’s a company called simply, “Priory.” It’s a great name, forever reminiscent of old English churches, ivy-clad walls bathed in warm summer sunshine, the song of the the chaffinch carried on a wispy breeze, gently rustling the leaves of mature English oaks.

Anyone watching the “Dispatches” programme would rapidly cast that idyllic scenario from their mind. Priory owns and runs over 400 establishments in the U.K.. While Priory was renowned for treating celebrities with embarrassing problems – drug addiction, depression, shoplifting, etc – American corporations couldn’t keep their hands off it. It was bought out by Advent International of Boston, Massachusetts (assets: $31billion) in 2011 for 925 million British pounds, then sold to Acadia Healthcare of Tennessee in 2014 for $1.5billion.

The “Dispatches” programme revealed the usual ‘behind the scenes’ chaos in some of Priory’s mental health establishments: under-staffing, lack of proper equipment, rough treatment of patients, use of solitary confinement (known in Priory parlance as “seclusion”) as a punishment, and a lack of proper staff training. An expert psychiatrist, shown the film by the programme company, described it as ‘appalling’.

Priory, or more properly, Acadia Healthcare, are paid millions of pounds by the U.K. government for the ‘services’ they render to mental health patients. The government is closing more and more NHS-run establishments of this nature, and farming out the services to the likes of Priory/Acadia.

Meanwhile, these Goliaths are hoovering up smaller health companies in order to control what they see as ‘the market’. Let’s let Priory speak for itself. Here’s a quote direct from their website:

…In September 2015 we acquired Life Works, one of the leading addictions and behavioural health hospitals in the UK. Life Works joins Priory Healthcare to continue supporting people with mental illnesses. In December 2015 we acquired Progress Care, a leading provider of specialist education and care in Lancashire. Progress’ service for young adults became part of Priory Adult Care, and its children’s service joined Priory Education and Children’s Services.

In February 2016, the Priory Group formally became part of Acadia Healthcare, one of the leading providers of behavioural care in the world.

On 30 November 2016, Priory merged with Partnerships in Care, a UK-based healthcare company owned by Acadia. This saw 66 sites, with a total of 1,890 beds, join Priory.

On 14 November 2017, Aspire Scotland joined our Education and Children’s Services division. Aspire provides education and care to young people aged 8 to 18 years with complex needs. 30 residential beds across 7 children’s homes and a day school joined the division, as well as a café and member’s gym for both students and the general public.[1]

These vast corporations exist for one purpose – profit. Invariably, costs are cut to the bone and patients, many of them in the most sensitive and delicate mental condition, suffer as a result.

On October 25th 2017, the Chairman & CEO of Acadia Healthcare, Joey A Jacobs…

…stated in a Q3 2017 Earnings Conference call (webcast presentation):

What we would look forward to, or hope does occur, is that the NHS continue to close beds and have a need to outsource those patients to the private providers…we think that, or are optimistic that, if the NHS closes more beds and outsources those, we would be a big winner there.[2]

It’s unlikely that someone in Mister Joey A. Jacob’s position would be gambling his $9.5million salary on ‘hopes’, ‘thoughts’, or ‘optimism’ of his business future. Talks between U.S. corporations and right-wing U.K. politicians have been ongoing for decades. It just needed a Britain freed from the legal confines of the E.U. for matters to progress.

To quote a past British prime minister, John Major…

…himself a Tory:

The NHS is about as safe with Tory Brexiteers as a hamster is with a python.[3]

There is one factor, unknown to Mister Jacobs at the time of his webcast presentation, that may now be causing him some disturbed sleep. On January 29th 2018, a court ruled that Professor Stephen Hawking and leading doctors could take the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to court over ‘back door privatisation’ of the NHS’:

Mr Hunt has tabled a plan which could allow commercial companies to run health and social services across a whole region in what critics have described as allowing back-door privatisation…Under Mr Hunt’s plans the boundaries between different parts of the NHS that pay for and provide care, such as hospitals, GPs and clinical commissioning groups, would be dissolved.

Responsibility for patients in these areas would be held by new healthcare overseers called Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) which could lead to newly merged NHS super-organisations or a non-NHS body being awarded contracts to manage and provide entire packages of care.

These ACOs in turn could choose to either subcontract the service or provide it themselves.

Leading healthcare professionals and Professor Hawking have argued an act of parliament is required, allowing MPs and Lords to scrutinise the proposals, before the policy is implemented and any changes to regulations are made. Lawyers from the Department of Health and NHS England have rejected these claims but a court has now ruled that a full judicial review will be granted to determine the lawfulness of Mr Hunt’s proposals.

Professor Hawking has claimed that the health policy was heading towards a “US-style insurance system run by private companies”.

Dr David Wrigley, the chair of doctor’s in Unite and a member of the BMA’s council said the judicial review was “welcome news” and that ACOs would have a “huge” impact on healthcare systems.

“It is absolutely vital to have a judicial review at the present time as it was going to be pushed through parliament with no vote and no scrutiny,” Dr Wrigley told The Independent.[4]

Brexit was engineered for this purpose. Liam Fox (presently Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade), Michael Gove (presently Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and other right-wing politicians have been conspiring with U.S. corporate bosses since the days of Atlantic Bridge. They see their efforts about to bear fruit.[5]

We can only hope Professor Hawking and his colleagues are successful. The future has looked bleak for Britain’s NHS for a long time. The Tory government has systematically run it into the ground. They decreed that waiting times at Accident & Emergency Departments be ‘no longer than four hours’ (as though that was a respectable length of time to wait following an ‘accident’ or ’emergency’). Even that failed. This winter people have died on trolleys in corridors, or in the backs of ambulances, while waiting to be treated. Numerous operations have been cancelled, whole departments in hospitals, closed.

Meanwhile, U.S. corporations and hedge funds wait in the wings for the call from Fox, or Gove.

[1] “About Priory Group Priory Group Website

[2] Webcast Presentation by Acadia CEO Joey A. Jacobs, as shown on Channel 4, February 18th 2018

[3] “Jeremy Hunt faces legal action over attempts to ‘Americanise’ the NHS” The Independent, November 3rd 2017

[4] “Stephen Hawking and leading doctors to take Jeremy Hunt to court over ‘back-door privatisation’ of NHS” The Independent. January 29th 2018

[5] “The lessons of Atlantic Bridge*” Stephen Newton, The Guardian, October 16th 2011

*NOTE: In his report, Newton states that “[Liam] Fox has paid for his serious error…” He was, in fact, forced to resign in 2011, but not as an MP, merely his position at the time as Secretary of State for Defence. Ignoring his tainted past, Theresa May brought him back into government when she won the leadership and premiership of the country after Cameron’s resignation. Supposition suggests it was his reward for supporting her leadership bid. If so, it was reward indeed. It made him possibly the most influential, and certainly most dangerous, member of the British government.

Instructions To A Child On How To Die

This verified tweet reveals one result of America’s addiction to guns and violence: a society no longer caring for kid’s minds (the effect of such instructions on a small child must be traumatic), just making dubious and pathetic efforts to spare a few more young lives in the event of an all too common school shooting.

There’s a lot of religion adrift in America, but the words of Jeremiah 5:21, from the Bible they love to quote, don’t seem to figure in it:

‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’

America’s Drug Of Choice – Violence

One U.S. Politician Speaking On Behalf Of Most Of Them

There’s little more to be said about the latest massacre of schoolkids in the United States, but much more to be noted of the hypocrisy and emotional blackmail pouring from the mouths of those on whom the responsibility for these outrages lie. Listening to the officials yesterday at the post-tragedy press conference – the ‘hearts going out’, the ‘prayers and condolences’, headed of course by the greatest hypocrite of all, the incumbent president, one could only marvel at their gall.

The latest excuse for gun violence is now ‘mental health’, despite most perpetrators of these acts having no history of mental illness. The U.S. president emphasized how ‘more must be done’ to pinpoint these people, though he was somewhat vague as to how they should be dealt with.

Scott Israel, the Sheriff of Broward County where the shooting took place, was less unclear. He bemoaned the lack of police powers that prevented these people being locked away before they could commit a crime. Sheriff Israel would, perhaps, have been more at home in 1930’s Germany.

America and Americans have a problem. Sadly, there is no ‘Gun Addicts Anonymous’ where Americans can go to declare: “My name is John Doe and I’m a gun addict.” Yet, an addiction it most certainly is. Like all drug addicts, they cannot be helped until they recognise their sickness and want to be cured. The first step is to talk honestly about it, but no-one wants to talk about controlling their drug. Any hint of the gun culture in America being responsible for yesterday’s tragedy, and the other seventeen that have occurred in the last six weeks, never escaped the lips of those excusing themselves from responsibility, while singing each other’s praises for a ‘job well done’ in the aftermath.

It doesn’t stop at the addiction for guns. America is addicted to violence in every form. War is part of the addiction, and underlying it all is the unstoppable thirst for power. Only today, the Guardian newspaper reports that the latest U.S. Ambassador to Australia has said America must prepare for war with China:

The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.

In an excoriating assessment of China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region, Harry Harris said Beijing’s “intent is crystal clear” to dominate the South China Sea and that its military might could soon rival American power “across almost every domain”. [1]

In the same paper today, the former U.S. energy secretary Ernest Moniz stated that the world is closer to a nuclear war than it has ever been since the Cuba crisis of the 1960’s, driven by American belligerence:

Moniz, a nuclear physicist who played a central role in securing a landmark non-proliferation agreement with Iran in 2015, said the margin for error in avoiding disaster was getting thinner because of the introduction of new, smaller weapons, the broadening of circumstances in which their use is being contemplated, and a lack of high-level communications between major nuclear weapons powers.

As a result, Moniz told the Guardian, the chance of nuclear use “is higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis”. [2]

America’s addiction to guns and violence is dragging the world towards the nuclear abyss. The blatant hypocrisy of officials at all levels over the massacre of seventeen kids was obvious for all who had eyes to see, and ears to hear. In America many remain blind and deaf to their addiction.

How would those same officials react after a holocaust slaughtered millions? Then they might be right to blame mental illness, but it would be their own.

[1] “Admiral warns US must prepare for possibility of war with China” Guardian, February 16th 2018

[2] “Nuclear risk at its highest since Cuban missile crisis, says ex-energy secretary” Guardian, February 16th 2018