THERE are more and more tragedies which prove that private companies, whose purpose is solely to make profits, have no place in the NHS.
We have already seen the experience of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust hospital.
In order to become a Foundation Hospital business it made £10 million in cuts, sacking hundreds of vital staff, including a large number of nurses.
The result was a situation where between 400 and 1200 patients died from a systematic failure caused by an abandonment of the duty to care in favour of balancing the books, or making a profit, as required by the Department of Health.
This week the cost of privatisation has been seen in two more deaths of patients.
The first is the case of Doctor John Hubley, who went for treatment for a gall bladder complaint at an Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC), one of the 40 that have been established to make profits for the private medical industry.
These private centres have been awarded block cash amounts by the government out of the NHS budget, to do work that would normally be carried out in fully staffed District General Hospitals.
To get private companies on board, they were paid around 10% more than what the NHS would be paid for the same procedures, without having any targets to reach.
The treatment centre in which Hubley died was not properly equipped and did not have an emergency supply of blood on hand, but was nevertheless passed as ‘fit for purpose’ by the Healthcare Commission.
When a complication arose blood had to be sought by car from a proper NHS hospital, but when it arrived there was no way it could be warmed, so two more car trips for blood had to be made. Meanwhile the patient died.
Blood was not the only thing missing that day. The centre lacked some of the basic equipment to help stem the bleeding, and the surgeon performing the operation did not have access to a phone in the operating theatre to call for help when it became clear that he was losing his patient.
The coroner’s inquest was scathing. The coroner stated: ‘Surgery is about safety, not what can be got away with.’
The coroner added that the Healthcare Commission had missed major flaws in the clinic’s emergency plan and described the plan as ‘woefully inadequate’.
The Care Quality Commission, which now regulates healthcare in England, is now looking into procedures at all of the ISTCs.
Privateers have also taken overnight cover for GPs. The latest scandal concerning such companies is the case of David Grey who was killed by an operative hired by a private company but who had no GP experience.
He was sent on his first shift by the Take Care Now company after just two hours training in the UK.
The report into the killing by the Care Quality Commission found multiple failings and suggested that many badly trained doctors were being employed by private companies to look after patients at nights and weekends.
The commission’s report found that the five NHS organisations that have used the Take Care Now company have not been monitoring the quality of the out-of-hours care.
Take Care Now is employed by NHS care trusts, in Worcestershire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Great Yarmouth & Waveney, and South West Essex, covering more than two million people.
Profit making capitalism and the provision of first class healthcare are opposites.
With the government about to make savage cuts, health care is to be further privatised, with the danger of many more deaths caused by poor or no care.
The only solution is to drive the profit makers out of the NHS, and for NHSTogether, the BMA- TUC coalition, to take action to defend the NHS.
Defence of the NHS means fighting the Brown government and using the strength of the trade unions to bring it down and to bring in a workers government that will develop and expand the NHS, not destroy it for the benefit of the drug companies.