NHS, Going Cheap

Submitted by Anon on 6 April, 2006 - 7:15

The privatisation of the NHS Logistics Authority, the service that delivers food and medicines to hospitals, was announced on Monday despite one of the private companies involved being under investigation by the US Senate.

Novation, a US medical supply company, is accused of supplying lower-standard goods to American hospitals to squeeze smaller companies out of the market, and then charging the publicly-funded Medicare program more than the hospitals are actually spending. Despite all the evidence, the government says a consortium including Novation and parcels company DHL will “deliver more value for money for the NHS”.

The track record of privatisation in NHS supply shows that private firms are not only potentially substandard, inefficient and corrupt — privatisation can be dangerous. Last month, a private company which had taken over NHS oxygen deliveries didn’t deliver oxygen needed by elderly outpationts to their homes. Several of them died.

Now the business-obsessed government wants to privatise four NHS bodies — the NHS Logistics Authority, the Dental Practice Board, the Prescription Pricing Agency and the NHS Pensions Agency. UNISON is considering industrial action over the sell-offs. As Karen Jennings, the union’s Head of Health, said, “NHS Logistics... has a well-deserved reputation for delivering a world-class service. Why the government wants to hand over such a successful organisation to DHL is beyond me”.

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