Safe in their hands? Tory peers, private health and the threat to our NHS

Tory peers with links to the private healthcare industry, peers who normally never vote, are helping push through Andrew Lansley's health and social care bill.

Tory peers with links to the private healthcare industry, peers who normally never vote, are helping push through Andrew Lansley’s anti-NHS bill, the Unite trade union revealed today. 

Unite say this reveals “the extent to which the government is relying on normally non-working peers with private sector health interests” to “ram through” the health and social care bill.

The union describe it as an “indelible stain” on our democracy, which is being “hijacked for the financial benefit of the private healthcare companies”, many of whom have bankrolled David Cameron’s Conservative party.

The peers exposed by Unite’s research are:

Baroness Bottomley, former Tory health secretary and now a director of BUPA. She has an attendance rate of just 20 per cent since 2005 and has voted on less than half the Lords’ voting days this year – but turned up for every day of the health bill;

Baroness Cumberlege, another former Tory health minister who runs her own lobbying firm, Cumberlege Connections, which works ‘extensively’ with major pharmaceuticals interests. She has recorded votes on just 22 days this year – but has voted in every division on the health bill;

Lord Ashcroft, who has had investments in at least two private healthcare groups. He has an attendance rate of just 16 per cent and he voted on less than a quarter of voting days this year – but appeared for the vote on the health bill;

Lord Bell, who represents health companies including BT Health, pharma giant AstraZeneca, and the disgraced, despicable Southern Cross. He has attended only a fifth of voting days this year – but voted to pass the health bill;

Lord Chadlington, chief executive of the Huntworth communications group. Been away from most votes in the Lords this year – but voted for the health bill;

Lord Coe, director of AMT-Sybex Group, which is the IT supplier to the NHS, and IT is one of many areas that the bill could lead to lucrative new opportunities for health contractors. He has one of the worst attendance records in Parliament, less than 10 per cent – but voted for the health bill.

Unite’s Rachael Maskell said:

“It is a indelible stain on parliamentary democracy that, while the vast majority of the electorate don’t want their NHS privatised, a cabal of unelected peers, riddled with vested financial self-interest, can be mobilised to thwart the wishes of voters.

“It is clear that democracy is being hijacked for the financial benefit of the private healthcare companies, many of whom have made large contributions to the Tory party since David Cameron became its leader in 2005.”

None of this, of course, should come as too much of a surprise, as you’ll see from the links below.

The Tories are as wedded to private health, as inextricably linked to it as ever, despite David Cameron and Andrew Lansley’s attempts at detoxification, and their risible claims they’re increasing NHS spending (wrong) and can be trusted with the NHS (even more wrong). And it’s not just fat cat Tory peers – as we revealed last year, it’s the health secretary himself.

The House of Lords will discuss the bill in its committee stage today – hopefully without the Lords and Ladies in the pocket of private health.

See also:

Has Lansley misled the House over links to private health?Shamik Das, October 18th 2011

Losing the plot: How the Lords rubbished the NHS bill – then voted for it anywayJos Bell, October 15th 2011

Exposed: Lansley’s NHS reform cheerleadersTamasin Cave, March 16th 2011

Lanlsley’s latest sop to private health should come as no surpriseTamasin Cave, January 28th 2011

Under the microscope: Lansley’s private healthcare supportersTamasin Cave, January 19th 2011

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