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THE plan to hand medical practices with hundreds of thousands of patients to a scandal-ridden US health privateer is to be challenged in court.
North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), a government body that awards contracts for NHS provision, is handing eight GP practices with 375,000 patients to US health insurance firm Centene.
The company and its web of subsidiaries have a track record of falsely claiming taxpayers’ income and of failing to provide adequate health services to patients in the United States.
Patients, doctors and NHS campaign groups have united to mount the legal challenge.
Led by Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) and 999 Call for the NHS, the campaigners want a judicial review of the decision, alleging that the CCG “was not sufficiently diligent in its investigation into the potential impact, and failed to engage patients and the public in the decision.”
They also say “there are particular concerns about what may happen to patients’ personal medical data.”
Anjna Khurana, a patient at Hanley Primary Care Centre in Islington and a local councillor representing Tollington, said: “I am so afraid that our NHS is being dismantled bit by bit, with the private sector playing a bigger and bigger part.
“I need to trust my doctor: how can I do that if they work for a company like Centene, a company that has a record of fraud in the US?”
KONP member and GP Louise Irvine said: “North Central London CCG’s decision to allow the changes took place well away from the glare of public scrutiny.
“The NHS constitution demands transparency, and people rightly expect accountability in NHS decision-making, especially about such important matters as who runs our GP practices.”
The action is supported by Baroness Joan Bakewell. She said: "I recently spoke in the House of Lords about the iniquity of allowing a profit-making American company to buy surgeries that serve the NHS.
“I feel strongly that the NHS should remain our own, and I believe many of the public would agree with me if they were fully aware of what is involved.
“So I believe the government has a strong case to answer.”
The campaigners are crowdfunding for the legal costs and donations can be made at: mstar.link/3bJG7Ji.
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