As if any further evidence were needed of the ruinous effect of this government on the NHS, and the damage that is being done to it as a public institution that exists for the good of its patients and of the population at large.
I’ve come across (thanks to Rick B – @tenpercent on Twitter) an ad for last week’s NHS Confederation conference and exhibition that gives the clearest possible indication of the ‘NHS for sale’ ethos that prevails under the Tory-led coalition.
The PDF event brochure available on the NHS Confederation website offered
an unparalleled opportunity to engage with senior-level leaders from the NHS and other organisations working in the health and social care system
to companies prepared to hand over substantial sums of cash.
For a £10,000 contribution, companies could ‘support’ the conference dinner and buy ‘exclusive’ access to ‘network’ with conference delegates including
Senior executives and non-executives from primary, secondary and community providers, foundation trusts and NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local government, and new national bodies such as the NHS Commissioning Board
as well as to have their branding on all communications, including invitations, menu cards and the event guide, plus the “opportunity to display promotional materials in reception areas” and a “note of thanks in opening speech”.
But for really big spenders, a donation of £30,000 bought a ‘strand sponsorship’, giving most of the above plus:
- the opportunity to chair a session within one of the programme strands, in consultation with the conference programme team
- two briefings for staff by an NHS Confederation director on key issues
- branding onsite signage and ‘holding slides’ within the strand sessions, and wherever a ‘strand’ was mentioned
There were four strands at the event, including one titled “Shaping the new system“, which provided a look at how “Reforms to the NHS have significant implications for how NHS services will be commissioned, provided and regulated“, including “the most effective ways to navigate the new, more complex environment“.
Exactly what we need – NHS directors providing a ‘how-to’ guide on the most effective ways of gorging on the NHS’ innards, which the government has splayed open with its ‘reforms’, to any vulture prepared to cough up 30 grand.
But that’s not all. Benefits for ‘supporters’ of the conference extend throughout the next 12 months, too – and in a way that’s even more serious and even more deplorable. In the form of an “ongoing partnership”, at no additional cost, sponsors receive
free membership of our associate partnership scheme from April 2013 to March 2014
- quarterly briefings with NHS Confederation policy staff
- two meetings with director-level NHS Confederation representatives
Those benefiting from the delicacies on offer included private health company BUPA, pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer and, bizarrely, General Electric.
As I’ve already shown, the new health regulations are a quagmire of risk and confusion for Clinical Commissioning Groups, designed to make them opt to include private providers in all NHS tenders by default.
But don’t worry. The NHS Confederation is ever so helpfully selling expert guidance in how to ‘navigate’ this swamp to best and most profitable effect to private, profit-making companies who will, as ever, expect to claw back everything they spend in addition to a hefty ‘pound of flesh’.
From the NHS – our health service, funded by our taxes. Money that could otherwise go directly into providing more and better healthcare for you, me and our loved ones.
No wonder Cameron looked botoxed on those posters promising that the NHS was ‘safe in our hands’.
He couldn’t possibly have kept a straight face otherwise.