News that the private health company Circle is to exit its contract to run the privatised NHS hospital Hinchingbrooke is proof that the privatisation of the NHS is fast becoming a disastrous experiment at the expense of our health (see notes to editors for background on Circle and political links).
Hinchingbrooke is also a warning on why our NHS should not be included in the trade deal called TTIP and why David Cameron should use his veto to get the NHS out of the deal. If the trade deal goes through it would give US companies and US investors rights to sue the UK for unlimited sums if a government ever tried to take NHS contracts back into public hands.
The Care Quality Commission has slammed Hinchingbrooke hospital for serious patient care failings. Meanwhile, far from saving money, Circle has been losing massive amounts on the deal, piling up debt, and was about to hit a financial loss threshold that could have triggered the contract being terminated.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Hinchingbrooke has gone full circle from flagship to complete failure. This is proof that the privatisation of the NHS is a disastrous experiment at the expense of our healthcare. We believe Circle jumped before it was pushed with the company cynically using the A&E crisis as cover to pull out of its contract.”
“It’s time to scrap the disastrous Health & Social Care act which has opened the door to the wholesale privatisation of the NHS and for David Cameron to use his veto in Europe to get the NHS out of TTIP. The disastrous management of Hinchingbrooke is also a warning on why our NHS should not be included in this trade deal called TTIP.
“If the deal goes through it would give US companies and US investors rights to sue the UK for unlimited sums if a government ever tried to take renationalise NHS contracts. David Cameron must use his veto to get the NHS out of TTIP.”
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Unite Media Briefing: Circle
Circle has been at the heart of the Tory plot to carve up our NHS. From donations to the MPs who voted for the Health and Social Care Act, to lobbying for the trade deal which could make the NHS sell-off irreversible. It is no surprise that the city hedge fund bosses who own Circle are major Conservative Party donors.
- Lansdowne Partners is owned by Paul Ruddock who donated £340,801.00
- Invesco Perpetual was founded by Sir Martyn Arbib, who has donated £206,600.00. Invesco owns 28.7% of Circle.
- Odey Asset Management is owned by Robin Crispin Odey, who has donated £94.000.00 and owns a 14.8% stake in Circle.
- BlueCrest Capital has a 5% stake in Circle. Chief Executive Michael Platt has gifted the party £125,000.00.
In 2010, Circle took over the running of Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, the first fully privatised NHS hospital. A report to Circle shareholders has revealed Hinchingbrooke to be running at a loss, just £150,000 short of the £5 million debt ceiling at which the contract could be terminated.
In September 2014, the Care Quality Commission report discovered that patients at the Cambridgeshire hospital were treated in an ‘undignified and emotionally abusive manner’. The CQC inspection also revealed Circle chronically understaffed the wards and presided over a ‘blame approach’ working culture.
In April 2014, Circle bid for musculoskeletal contracts in Bedfordshire worth £120 million. However, in November Bedford hospital refused to sign the contract.
According to tax expert Richard Murphy, Circle appears to be paying almost no tax to the UK Treasury, thanks to a series of complex corporate structures and tax havens.
Links to MPs:
Andrew Lansley: Former Health Minister
Christina Lineen, a former Head of Communications at private health company Circle spent two years working for Lansley, when a shadow health secretary
Mark Simmonds, Boston and Skegness: Mark Simmonds, who was a shadow health minister when the controversial reforms were drawn up, was paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as “strategic adviser” to Circle Health, the first firm to win control of an NHS hospital.
Mark Simmonds took up his role at Circle just five months after he had finished his role as Shadow Health Secretary. He also accepted a US trip to Boston worth £4,982 from private health provider BUPA.
Mark Simmonds was also a member of the All Parliamentary Health Group acting as a co-chair to Conservative Peer Baroness Cumberlege.
Jo Johnson, Orpington: According to the electoral Commission Johnson received £6,000 on 19th July 2010, to his constituency office from Robin Crispin Odey, the founder of the hedge fund which part owns Circle health.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Spelthorne: Worked for Odey Asset Management hedge fund as an analyst who part-own Circle health. The hedge fund is run by Robin Crispin William Odey who has donated to the Conservative party since 2007. Mr Kwateng received £10,000 from Odey Asset Management on 12th September 2011 for consultancy work for political advice to asset managers, which included ‘domestic affairs’.
Richard Graham, Gloucester: His constituency office received £3,000 from Circle investor, Mr Robin Crispin Odey on 03/12/2007. Richard Graham was elected MP for Gloucester at the last general election and like Odey has previously worked for Barings bank, which went bust in 1995. In total Odey has donated £222,000 to the Conservative party.
Mark Harper, Forest of dean: Electoral commission records show his constituency office received £5,000 on 09/02/2010 from Circle investor Mr Robin Crispin Odey just 3 months before the general election.
Jesse Norman, Hereford and South Herefordshire: According to the Electoral Commission, Mr Norman received £5,000 on 30th June 2009 from Circle healthcare investor Crispin Odey to his local Hereford constituency. Norman also received payment given to charity for speaking event for the lobbying firm Quiller iller lobbies for Circle and outsourcing firms including Capita. Quiller is owned by Huntsworth Group.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, North-East Somerset: According to the electoral Commission, he received £2,000 to his constituency office on the 14th April, 2010 from Mr Robin Crispin Odey, a hedge funder who has invested in Circle healthcare.
Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex: According to the electoral Commission, his office received £2,000 on 11th May 2010, from Crispin Odey who is an investor of Circle Health. Marsh is a risk and strategy management company that amongst other services helps ‘hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and industry associations understand the implications of changing policy environments". In the UK, Marsh delivers risk and insurance solutions to key areas of the healthcare industry, including major private hospital groups, some of the UK’s largest care providers, over 30 foundation trusts, medical technology providers and other healthcare service providers and funders.
Source: Unite Investigation: Government Links to Private Health Care
Circle’s Support for TTIP:
Circle Chairman, Michael J Kirkwood is an advocate of TTIP, the transatlantic trade deal which could make the sell-off of the NHS irreversible.
Circle employs Quiller Consultants, the lobbying firm founded by Lord Jonathan Hill, the Tory’s new European Commissioner.
Quiller is now owned by Huntsworth, a Brussels based lobbying firm which specialises in promoting private healthcare. Despite pledging to sell them, The House of Lords register of interests reveals that Lord Hill continued to own shares in Huntsworth until October 2014.
The chairman of Circle Holdings, Michael J. Kirkwood, is an advisory director on the board of British American Business (BAB), an organisation whose lobbying efforts include backing the group of MPs cheerleading for the trade deal.
The deal, known as TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), is the largest bilateral trade agreement ever negotiated. A clause known as the Investor Trade Dispute Settlement (ISDS) could allow private health firms with US investors to sue the government, effectively making the Tory’s sell-off of the NHS irreversible.
- British American Business, Board of Directors: Link
- BAB-backed TTIP parliamentary group: Link
- Meet Lord Hill, Cameron's City 'Poacher-Turned-Gamekeeper' In Brussels, Huffington Post