Friday, May 19, 2006

NHS contract challenged at High Court

The European subsidiary of the American health insurance giant UnitedHealth Europe has had it's contract to run a GP's surgery in Derbyshire challenged at the High Court. The challenge is being made on the grounds that the North Eastern Derbyshire PCT went against residents' wishes by signing the deal to allow the American giant to take over the running of the local surgery. It is argued that the failure to consult residents is in contravention of the Health and Social Care Act 2001.

For anyone unaware, UnitedHealth Europe is one of New Labour's "preferred" bidder for NHS contracts. this is most likely why the other bids were overlooked at the time of tender. UnitedHealth Eruope is also one of the revolving door businesses that people in Government have a tendency to leave at join at a high level. The President of UnitedHealth Europe is former senior health policy advisor to Blair, Simon Stevens, and the firm has used former Health Secretary Alan Milburn to lobby on it's behalf.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying the private sector in the health service is necessarily a bad thing. However, UnitedHealth Europe's incestuous links with Government are, and the awarding of contracts (even if UnitedHealth were the right choice in some cases) leaves a funny smell in the air.

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