The accelerating privatisation of GP services in London and its detrimental impact on patients will be the focus of a protest in Tower Hamlets on Thursday 21 November. 

Health campaigners are increasingly concerned about the activities of the privately-owned GP at Hand, a west London GP practice which is hoovering up NHS patients – an estimated 60,000 in London and Birmingham.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union with 100,000 members in the health service, said that GP at Hand, a ‘digital first’ service which replaces the traditional face-to-face visits to local GPs, is ‘cherry picking’ the younger and most wealthy patients.

This is important because 80 per cent of patients, who are more or less well, subsidise services for the 20 per cent who have long-term serious conditions. If the fittest patients are ‘creamed off’ by the private sector, that means less cash for the care of the chronically ill. 

East London GPs will at protesting about GP at Hand’s expanding activities outside Newby Place GP surgery, 21 Newby Place, Poplar E14 0EY at 14.00 Thursday 21 November.

Chair of Doctors in Unite and Tower Hamlets GP Dr Jackie Applebee said: “We object to GP at Hand on two main grounds – one that it is draining resources from the NHS to the private sector; and, secondly, it is reducing the resources that GPs have for their more chronically ill and elderly patients.

“We also understand that 25 per cent of GP at Hand patients ditched the company in the 14 months to January 2019, which is not a great advert for the private sector.

“GP at Hand cherry picks the younger, richer patients - but it is not so keen if you are pregnant, have a terminal illness or suffer from mental health problems which need more complex and costly care plans.

“The accelerating rate of the privatisation of the NHS, of which GP at Hand is a prime example, is creating a two-tier health service which undermines the fundamental ethos of the NHS when it was founded in 1948.

“That is why it is important for the residents of east London to come out and protest on 21 November to show that the NHS is not up for sale to privateers.”     


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]

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