Union calls out Starmer’s health spokesman over donations from private health interests
The National Officer for health of the giant Unite union has written to Keir Starmer’s Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting to challenge Streeting over his connections to private health interests. As Skwawkbox revealed, Streeting accepted £15,000 from a hedge-fund founder with almost a billion dollars’ worth of investments in a US private health corporation at the heart of the privatisation and break-up of the NHS into units incentivised to deny treatment and cut costs.
Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe’s letter tells Streeting:
Re: Donations and Conflicts of interest
I am writing to you on behalf of Unite the Union to express our concern regarding a recent donation you accepted from Mr John Armitage for £15,000.
As I am sure you are aware, Mr Armitage is a wealthy Hedge fund manager, who has donated millions of pounds to the Conservative party over recent years. The hedge fund he developed has a significant stake in U.S. private health care provider, United Health, an organisation that wants to make inroads into the English NHS. This donation therefore raises alarming questions about conflicts of interest in your role as Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Care and Unite believes that it requires an explanation.
Unite and other health trade unions have campaigned vociferously against the increasing privatisation of the NHS under the Tories. Data shows a growing share of England’s NHS budget going to private and non NHS organisations over the past 12 years. The Department of Health and Social Care’s annual report shows a rise of almost 20% spend between 2014 -15 and 2019/20 from £8.1bn to £9.7bn in 2019/20. An Oxford University study, published in the Lancet this week, has shown that the rise is strongly linked to a drop in patient care, as widely predicted by trade unions.
The Labour Party is the party of the NHS. This proud legacy was founded on the Bevanite principle that healthcare should be available to all that need it, without the barrier of payment in order to serve all strata of society. United Health are an organisation that explicitly seek to make profit out of our citizens’ illnesses and Unite believes there can be no place for organisations like United Health in our NHS.
A Labour Party that aspires to get back into government must commit to restoring the NHS as a truly universal public service, publicly run, properly funded and resourced to meet the public health challenges of the 21st Century. This is what Labour Governments have legislated for in Wales and Scotland.
Our concerns are significant and we would like to meet with you as a matter of urgency to discuss these points.
Wes Streeting did not respond to a request for comment when Skwawkbox published news of the donation.
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