Friday, May 18, 2012

Soaring NHS waiting lists push private healthcare profits up.

(click on the graph to enlarge)

The 23 private healthcare companies listed above made a combined profit of £1,335,000,000 for the last accounts each of them have published all for 2010 or 2011. I will measure this year on year to watch the growing profits of private healthcare companies.

I have excluded Serco from the list because not all of their profits are made in the provision of healthcare. I also excluded addiction, cosmetics, maternity and eye clinics from the list. Some companies like Virgin are new entries into the market and so their profits are very low. Other companies with big turnovers but low profits (in fact losses) include Circle Health who operated at a loss to secure the Hinchingbrooke Hospital. In addition, I should point out that the private healthcare industry is riddled with tax avoidance, evasion and the trousering of profits. You aint no one in the health care industry if your not trying to persuade the tax man that you are making a loss. Of course, companies are allowed to offset profits against the acquisition of assets and so I would be very dubious amount how much tax many of these companies pay. 

Most private healthcare companies report that 2011 was a bumper year. Virgin, Spire, Ramsay and many other companies reported surges in their trading and profits for that year. Most companies attribute their recent surge in profits, not to the Tory Health Bill as you might assume, but rather surging waiting lists. Spire who reported their profits this week pointed out that their biggest growth sector were those people fed up with hospital waiting times and wanting to go private. Crucial question, is this the reason this young baby is now dead? Is this (see link) our first confirmed death as a result of failing hospitals buckling under the pressure of Tory cuts? The dad certainly claims so, but tonight we shold probably pause, and reflect upon a lost life before political recriminations begin.

If one was to take at face value the Coal, Iron and Steel production reports available in the Communist Archives of Soviet Russia from 1932-5 during the 'three great years', they would be tempted to view the second 5 year plan as a mesmerising success. No doubt of course it was the more successful of all the pre-war plans but factory managers falsified the reports so that they could avoid death for lack of productivity. You weren't no one if you were were not a Stakhanovite in 1930s Russia.

Since Cameron has become the Prime Minister of the UK we are witnessing something similar occur here in the UK. As you know, we in the UK rightly obsess over hospital waiting lists. Results are not recorded under the Stalinist threat of death but the success of a government can hinge upon the number of operations, waiting times, and cancelled operations. Cameron's government have responded to this challenge with an orgy of misinformation. Perhaps the most deceitful UK government we have had since WWII, they massage the truth and bend the facts to their liking. Let me outline some of the ways below that hospital waiting times, and cancelled operations are being massaged below to give you a flavour.

1. Doctors are now bribed £30 per patient to cancel their follow up appointments at hospitals and instead conduct them in GP surgeries (here).

2. Patients are offered operation slots in holiday seasons in the hope that they refuse them. When they do the clock is reset on their waiting time so that the 18 week guarantee becomes null and void. If a patient refuses then the hospital is not beholden to keep the limit.

3. As Polly Toynbee recorded (here) nurses are being leant on to actually falsify records. This meant that any patient who had gone over the 18 week limit would not be given an appointment and instead those about to break the 18 week limit would be prioritised. In some cases the failure to provide an appointment within the 18 weeks is simply wiped from the records.

4. Another trick is to provide hospital slots at the last minute without any notice which patients sometimes turn down because they and their family have either a) not psychologically prepared themselves for the operations, or b) family childcare and work arrangements are too late to finalise (here).

5. The whole process has become that distorted and cumbersome that private health care providers such as Spire have reported a boom in profits of 9.2% as people have preferred to go private than suffer the chaos of NHS waiting lists (here). Ironically, this then has the knock on effect of making waiting lists appear more successfully managed.

6. Sometimes waiting list clerks arrange a consultation meeting of just a couple of minutes where the patient is not even examined as I reported of one patient in Wiltshire and that is counted as a proper appointment.

7. In some cases  emergency patients are not even making it into the hospitals. You see as long as they never make it to the hospital they are not subject to the 4 hour A & E target for example. Instead, patients are treated in "A & E" centres or cattle sheds to you and I. Paramedics etc. cater for their medical needs before they are discharged off home again. This has resulted in a "bouncing" of discharges. Guess what, we don't measure "bounces" in the discharge system so this goes completely hidden from the records.

For an insight into the tax avoidance private health care companies engage in, visit this site (here).  For  list of the most up to date profit reports of the companies included in the graph above, see this link (here).

How much profit did the NHS make last year?

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