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Conflict of interest fears as ex-M&S boss' pri...

Conflict of interest fears as ex-M&S boss' private healthcare business could gain by hospital takeover

14 February 2014

The country's biggest union, Unite, has today (Friday) called on the secretary of state for health to explain why a former M&S boss with interests in a private equity firm eyeing up health contracts has been appointed to an influential role in the management of the NHS.

Sir Stuart Rose, appointed by Jeremy Hunt to `shake up' NHS management, sits on the board of a private equity firm with a multimillion pound stake in private healthcare firm Care UK, warns Unite. Care UK is one of two profit-driven companies in the running to take over the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton. 

With that hospital earmarked as one of the 14 hospitals in special measures for Sir Stuart’s intervention, Unite is claiming that a clear conflict of interest exists - and raises serious concerns that Sir Stuart's influence may extend beyond management strategy. The union says that the minister must act to ensure that Sir Stuart does not profit from the George Eliot bid.

Rachael Maskell, Unite national officer, said: “People will be utterly stunned and then angry that the health secretary Jeremy Hunt has put an individual who could make a fortune out of hospital takeovers in a position of responsibility in the NHS.  This clear conflict of interest is gob-smacking - what was the minister thinking?

"With the people of Nuneaton now in a fight to stop their hospital falling into private sector hands as Care UK and Circle battle it out to take over the running of George Eliot Hospital,  Sir Stuart must make it clear now that he will not in any way personally profit from this bid.

"Similarly Mr Hunt must act now to ensure that Sir Stuart -and all such appointees - have no place in deciding the future of the NHS where they stand to profit from their private interests accessing these facilities.

“Sir Stuart's undoubted prowess is in selling products.  For those who work in or depend on the NHS this will send a shudder of fear; does it mean his job is to find ways of making people pay for NHS services that are currently free at the point of use?  Private interests should have no place in the provision of health care; the values are simply not compatible."

Sir Stuart sits on the board of Bridgepoint, a private equity firm with a £480 million stake in Care UK: http://www.bridgepoint.eu/en/investment-portfolio/care-uk/

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777

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•    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.