NHS is facing new US threat

Friday, 19th November

NHS and money artwork

‘The future of part of our NHS services are effectively in the hands of profit-driven money men’

• MANY of the 7,000 patients of King’s Cross Road Surgery may be wondering why their doctors are being moved to, or “merged with”, a surgery at Somers Town.

They need look no further than the latest news from America about the practice’s owner, Centene Corporation.

A massive hedge fund, Politan Capital Management, has bought up a $900million share stake in Centene, and is demanding that the health care conglomerate doubles its profit margins. Furthermore Politan is pressing for board changes at Centene.

So while it was bad enough that dozens of GP practices in the UK, including some in Camden and Islington, had been quietly bought up by Centene, we now learn that the future of part of our NHS services are effectively in the hands of profit-driven money men, a hedge fund named Politan.

It took little more than hours after the news broke for Centene to promise Politan that is will be “leveraging its full size and scale to drive margin expansion”.

While the wording may sound unfamiliar to people outside the money markets, in Britain we have already seen what this can mean on the ground: closures of any services that don’t make them enough money.

Centene is also promising a “…review of its businesses to simplify and optimise its portfolio and enhance its market position as well as drive margin expansion”.

I think we all know by now what “optimise its portfolio” will mean: more of the same. And this sort of approach is likely to threaten any other NHS services that are privatised.

Fortunately an Islington councillor has taken up the challenge of getting the original, disastrous, decision by the local clinical commissioning group to allow the takeover by Centene to be subject to a judicial review. On appeal, the High Court has decided to allow this action to be heard early next year.

If we are to safeguard our services, we need to support this action. Full details can be found at: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stop-centene-takeover-stage2/

DAVID BREWERTON
Islington Green Party

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