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Former Amazon boss must not get NHS job, say campaigners

A FORMER Amazon boss must not be put in charge of NHS England, unions and campaigners warned today.

Handing the chief executive post to Douglas Gurr, who has reportedly been already interviewed for the job, would be akin to “putting a fox in charge of the hen house,” the Unite union said.

Sharon Graham, the Unite officer leading a campaign for union rights at the online giant, said: “This is an alarming signal from this Tory government.

“Amazon is steeped in corporate irresponsibility, including tax avoidance, poor working conditions and union-busting. 

“Amazon’s values are completely at odds with the values of the NHS — Douglas Gurr should not be allowed anywhere near our prized health service."

Mr Gurr, who was a global vice-president at Amazon and headed its British operations between 2016 and 2020, is understood to have been interviewed by Treasury officials last week.

In 2019, the transnational was handed a contract by former health secretary Matt Hancock giving it free access to data collected by the NHS.

Mr Gurr’s apparent shortlisting for the post — shortly to be vacated by former CBI director and trade minister Digby Jones, now known as Lord Birmingham — sends the clear signal that there will be no let-up in the Tories’ drive to privatise huge chunks of the health service.

Keep Our NHS Public co-chair Dr John Puntis said: “The £37 billion wasted on a failed ‘test and trace’ system should have taught government that putting businesspeople without significant health experience in charge of NHS projects is a recipe for disaster.

“In addition to an appalling record on tax evasion — the worst of the big six US tech firms — and its disrespect for workers’ welfare, Amazon is hoping to create and profit from new products, applications and cloud-based services derived from access to patient data agreed through a contract signed off by Matt Hancock.

“Given the Department of Health’s prioritisation of ‘digital health’ as a solution to all problems, Mr Gurr’s appointment would also present a major conflict of interest, even though he no longer works for Amazon, in much the same way as Sajid Javid’s connections with his former employer JP Morgan.

“The NHS needs a leader committed to its founding principles, with broad experience of working in the service.”

The Department of Health and Social Care was invited to comment.

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