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We must defend the NHS against privateers

We must defend the NHS against privateers

14 November 2013

Speaking to Unite activists working for the NHS, attending Unite's industrial conference in Brighton today (14 November), Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail warned that the Health and Social Care Act could open the floodgates to profiteers and tax avoiders desperate to make a quick buck at the expense of the country. 

Unite, together with War on Want and Change to Win, exposed the level of tax evasion by one private sector player that benefits from NHS income. In 2007, Alliance Boots left the FTSE 100, went private and is now based in Switzerland. Our research shows that over six years Alliance Boots has avoided paying £1 billion in taxes; this is despite drawing an estimated 40 per cent of its UK revenue from services it supplies to the NHS. 

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The necessity to defend our NHS in its 65th year against the forces of privatisation has never been more urgent. 

"The case of Alliance Boots serves as a stark warning of how privatisation can drain the UK of revenue which should be controlled by the Treasury. Over six years Alliance Boots has avoided paying £1 billion in taxes; this is despite the company drawing an estimated 40 per cent of its UK revenue from services it supplies to the NHS. To understand the scale of what we lost, the £1 billion equates to more than two years of prescription charges for all of England or 185,000 hip replacements.

"Labour in opposition has pledged to repeal the Health and Social Care Act and Unite wants Labour to go further. There is no place in the UK for a ‘market’ in health care, internal or external.  

"Not one of us voted for this dismantling of our NHS that seeks to replace cooperation with competition, fragmenting services and pitching one health provider against another. Unite has pledged to defend the NHS through any possible means. The TUC mobilisation that circled the Tories in Manchester was a start but we need more action."

ENDS 

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 

Notes to editors: 

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