Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about Centene’s acquisition of GP practices in England and the associated Early Day Motion (EDM 1628). As a member of the shadow front bench I am not permitted to sign EDMs, but I am happy to set out my thoughts below.
I support calls for the Government to intervene to block this takeover, which is expected to create the largest private supplier of GP services.
As you may know, Operose Health—a subsidiary of US insurance company Centene – has acquired AT Medics, which operates 37 GP practices across London. This will add to the 21 GP practices it already runs throughout England.
This takeover happened without any patient consultation or public scrutiny and there are understandable concerns that this represents a stealth privatisation, with potentially huge implications for patient care.
I share concerns that private sector involvement in NHS services has created a fragmented and marketised system, which prevents proper integration.
The Government has published a White Paper on the future of health and care. It includes plans to repeal many aspects of its 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which introduced competitive tendering and was criticised for increasing private involvement in the NHS. I have consistently been opposed to the Act on the grounds it has fragmented services and undermined the principles of the NHS as a comprehensive and universal healthcare system.
I will scrutinise forthcoming legislation in this area closely and press Ministers to ensure any reorganisation delivers the standards of care patients deserve and supports NHS and care staff.
In the meantime, I believe the Government should step in to halt the transfer of GP practices to Centene, ensure it is fully scrutinised, and prevent takeovers like this happening in the future.