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.

3 Replies to “NHS: The Great British Give-Away”

  1. This has been coming ever since the poodle show of Blair and Bush and the backroom skullduggery.

    Why is it always the poor, vulnerable, sick and elderly that are thrown onto the chopping block?

    Silly me, the most disposable, the less likely to have the energy to complain.


  2. What a sickening read, RJ! But thank you for keeping we ex-pats updated.
    NHS has been such a godsend to so many, including yours truly over the years – I detest the thought that soon it might be no more – or more likely existing “in name only” .

  3. WWW – disposable, yes, but actually quite useful in increasing the wealth of the few. A clever way to take those unable to contribute personally by working, and still make lots of money from them.

    Twilight – bar some unknown intervention, it seems likely that via Brexit, privatisation will come to pass. The sad part is the majority of Brits still appear to believe Theresa May’s lies.

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