private healShould we be wary of private companies’ involvement in healthcare?

We have watched with interest as the bidding process has progressed for Hinchingbrooke, wondering with awe at the magical qualities Circle must have to be able to promise to run a hospital within the NHS, not cutting any services, and manage to reduce the 40million debt, yet still pay their shareholders.

It gets even more complex when you realise the Foster-designed hospital in Bath, which Cavendish so praised, is leased from Health Properties (Bath), a company on whose board Lehman Brothers have 50 per cent representation. That&8217;s the same Lehman Brothers that went into administration in 2008. Health Properties (Bath), the hospital&8217;s landlord, is also part-owned by the Jersey arm of Circle and by Health Estates Fund.

&8220;The investors in this fund are un-connected wealthy individuals who have chosen to invest their money in the bric of UK hospitals,&8221; says Circle.

May 28th, 2011 at 3:26 am ()

My parents, sister, husband, daughter and myself have all been patients at Hinchingbrooke Hospital at one time or another. My daughter, bprivate health fundsorn in the hospital, has Downs Syndrome, is now an adult, and lives in a residential care home, run by Southern Cross Healthcare.

Some might argue the financial services in particular have enriched a lucky feprivate healShould we be wary of private companies’ involvement in healthcare?w individuals over the past few decades without much public benefit at all &8211; hardly something the NHS should aspire to.

They might also want to know how it is that Circle can afford grand pianos and dressing gowns for its patients,Eastern Health while the NHS, which offers no such luxuries, is unsustainable.

And the accounts reveal a structure of fiendish complexity, with 49.9% of Circles shares held in the British Virgin Islands, and the remaining 50.1% in Jersey, although Circle says the Jersey arm has recently been re-domiciled as a UK tax resident company. The Jersey companys accounts include six pages of related-party transactions.

Cut to the Guardian, where three days ago Circles CEO, ex-Goldman Sachs banker Ali Parsa set out his view that the NHS is an unsustainable industry that costs too much to run. In his view, Britain has world class retailers, telecoms and financial services firms, as these sectors have been opened to competition over the past few decades, the reported.

With examples like this, is &8211; as the Times would have us believe &8211; British wariness of private providers involvement in the NHS really irrational? Or is it an entirely rational response to the risks and uncertainties lurking beyond the fluffy white dressing gowns?

All this comes at a time when Britain&8217;s largest care home operator, Southern Cross, is struggling to survive.  It&8217;s a debacle that has arguably come about because private equity and other funds chose to invest in the bric of UK residential care homes.

The Department of Health is obviously convinced: last year it appointed Circle to take over the management of an NHS hospital Hinchingbrooke, in Huntingdon (though the deal has not yet been signed off).

Wariness of private companies involvement in healthcare is a British obsession and an irrational one, proclaimed the Times in an editorial yesterday, accompanying a lengthy article by Camilla Cavendish on the NHS. Cavendishs piece began with an almost delirious appraisal of Circle Health, the private healthcare operator that is 50 per cent owned by its staff.

As to Southern Cross, we have had strong reassurances from the Home&8217;s manager that all the residents and staff are safe where they are. We had a letter from the Home a few days ago to say he has taken up a post with another company.

After a series of arcane financial deals, the company is cing wipeout unless it can put together an agreement between the complex competing interests of creditors, property investors, bondholders, banks, shareholders and landlords, among them the offshore fund of the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA), the Guardian reported this week.

But from the outside its hard to be so sure.

A well written article indeed. An eye-opener and one which lays to light Cavendish&8217;s brications. It makes one think why Cavendish wrote as she did and what her motivation was.

Are we wary of private companies&8217; involvement in healthcare in Cambridgeshire, let alone Britain? You bet!!!

May 27th, 2011 at 10:30 pm ()

private healShould we be wary of private companies’ involvement in healthcare?,Circles hospital in Bath is designed by Lord Foster, there is a grand piano in the front hall and the NHS patients get the same fluffy white dressing gowns and ensuite rooms as the private patients, Cavendish gushed.

Tweet It seems that on top of increasing external criticism of HSBC&8217;s dealings in Egypt and Libya, there is growing internal criticism at Britain&8217;s biggest bank. Busine

What will happen to the 31,000 residents in the companys care homes if it goes under, is not clear.

What we&8217;re very good at is asking how to make the money go a long way,&8221; Parsa told the Guardian.

Circle Health Limiteds most recently published set of annual accounts, for the year ending 31 December 2009, show the group made a pre-tax loss of 28.3 million on an income 63 million.

Healthcare is never to be considered a profit enterprise save in the setting of private hospitals. The NHS is a welre organisation and has to be run efficiently (as different from profit ). Are we to understand that any private company coming forward to run the NHS hospital is doing it out of motives of public service only and not with the ulterior motive of profit ?

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