Alistair Darling paid thousands by NHS Privatisation Company


  By Martin Kelly
Labour MP Alistair Darling was paid thousands of pounds by a company heavily involved in the privatisation of the English NHS, it has emerged.
In 2011, the Edinburgh MP who heads the anti-independence campaign Better Together, received over £10,000 for addressing a dinner organised by Cinven Limited.

The company is a leading buyout firm, who in 2008 bought 25 private hospitals from Bupa for £1.44bn.  Other UK investments include Spire Healthcare, who run private healthcare hospitals, and whose clinical director Jean-Jacques de Gorter said the use of private sector would “spiral” as a result of Conservative MP Andrew Lansley’s reform proposals.

Mr Darling, who this week will give a speech on behalf of Better Together, is one of a string of current and former Labour MPs who have links to or have benefitted financially from companies involved in private health care.

Others who have benefitted include Mr Darling’s former Labour cabinet colleagues Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt who were both former Health Secretaries.  Hewitt was a former advisor to Cinven and landed a lucrative £55,000 role with the firm after standing down as an MP.

When in office, Milburn received tens of thousands of pounds from several firms involved in private health care.

The rush towards privatisation in the NHS south of the border, begun under the previous Labour Government, means that one in five patients with certain conditions are now seen by private firms.

In 2012 a report showed that the private sector was responsible for 17% of NHS hip replacements in England, 17% of NHS hernia operations in England and were involved in thousands of other procedures.

In 2006/07, NHS outpatient data indicated that there were 10 sites offering privatised treatment on the English NHS, reporting 15,000 first outpatient attendances; by 2010/11 this had grown to almost half a million outpatient attendances funded by the NHS across 161 private sector providers, accounting for 3.5% of all first outpatient attendances in the English NHS.

Currently in the House of Lords some 37 Labour peers are involved with private healthcare companies giving each scope to benefit financially from the growing privatisation of the NHS in England.

Labour’s support for the idea that “any willing provider” should provide NHS services dates back to the publication in 2006 of ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say’.