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THE takeover of GP practices in London by a US health insurance giant will be subject to judicial review after the public raised more than £70,000 to support the case, Unite confirmed today.
Campaigners stress that the move is vital to counter a creeping privatisation of the NHS in England, and to address the lack of consultation with patients during the acquisition.
Earlier this year, Centene Corporation’s UK subsidiary Operose Health took over privately owned AT Medics, which was set up in 2004 by six NHS GPs and now runs 37 GP practices across the capital.
Alongside Unite, campaign groups including Keep Our NHS Public, 999 Call for the NHS and We Own It spearheaded the fundraising campaign which saw the public donate £43,424, allowing the judicial review to get the go-ahead last month.
Now a further £30,000 is required to cover “capped costs” if the case is lost, of which more than £28,000 has been raised so far.
It is expected that the High Court will hear the case in January or February, when it will focus on whether the North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group acted unlawfully during the takeover process.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a landmark case in the fight against the accelerating pace of privatisation of the NHS.
“Unite, with 100,000 members in the health service, fully supports the judicial review. GP services can’t be allowed to be hived off to profit-hungry US private healthcare companies.
“The magnificent effort by the public is a testament to how much people value and love the NHS — they don’t want to see its services and ethos eroded by unaccountable, untouchable corporate takeovers.”
Keep Our NHS Public’s Louise Irvine told the Morning Star: “The NHS Constitution demands transparency and people rightly expect transparency and accountability in NHS decision-making.
“I am grateful that the public have shown their huge strength of feeling in this matter by generously donating to the campaign.”
We Own It’s Johnbosco Nwogbo said that Centene’s takeover “reveals the hollowness of the government’s claim that the NHS is safe in their hands.
“The public knows that healthcare and profit don’t mix well. People want Centene out and are prepared to use all the legal means available to them until patients are put first.”
The link to the crowdfunding page can be found here: mstar.link/StopCentene.
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