A ‘marketing day’ to excite interest in hiving off NHS services in Cambridgeshire to private companies will be mirrored across England, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, is concerned that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough clinical commissioning group (CCG) held a ‘provider engagement’ event at the four-star Marriott Hotel, Huntingdon last month which attracted more than 50 organisations providing healthcare from across the country.
A total of 211 clinical commissioning groups in England came into being on 1 April – as part of the government’s so-called NHS reforms - with a £65 billion budget to commission NHS services from provider organisations which may include the NHS, but under compulsory competitive tendering could be private companies, such as Virgin Care, and social enterprises.
Unite head of health, Rachael Maskell said: "The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG really needs to come clean about how it is planning to provide future NHS services for the people of Cambridgeshire.
"The fact that more than 50 organisations turned up for this so-called 'marketing day' in Huntingdon would indicate that a mass sell-off of services, such as health visiting and care for the elderly, is on the cards.
"This appears to be privatisation of NHS by stealth against the wishes of local people and much of the responsibility for this lies with the former health secretary Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire. Within five years, the NHS will be unrecognisable as profit takes pole position over patient care.
"Privatisation does not work as witnessed by the private company Circle which runs Hinchingbrooke hospital. Circle's loss was £29 million last year and it is now embarking on a programme of cuts. It is time for the public to wake-up to what the coalition has done to one of this country's greatest assets, the NHS.
"We believe that what is happening in Cambridgeshire will be mirrored across England as the pace of privatisation accelerates. We are at the last chance saloon for a universal service, free at the point of delivery for all those in need.
“We want these policies reversed and the world-class NHS restored to its position as ‘the preferred provider of choice’ – and not one of many organisations scrabbling for contracts.”
Unite wants the public to contact the union to share their stories about what is happening to the NHS. Respondents can remain anonymous - share your story link.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.