Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snorkel to Serco

©2010 Am Ang Zhang
One needs to be on the look out when snorkeling and when not.
Three doctors working at Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre are facing investigation by the General Medical Council, amid calls for healthcare at the centre to be transferred from the private sector to the NHS.
A complaint about the three has been submitted to the GMC after accusations over numerous alleged cases of substandard patient care, the Guardian has learned. The complaint to the medical body follows a succession of damning reports highlighting inadequate healthcare at the Bedfordshire centre.
Any GMC investigation would increase pressure on ministers to address growing concerns about healthcare at Yarl's Wood, which is the responsibility of Serco, the private company that runs the centre. Last month the children's commissioner raised concerns about "significant areas" of care for the 1,000 children held at Yarl's Wood, saying it fell below NHS standards.
On Wednesday the chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, will publish a report into Yarl's Wood, which is also expected to criticise conditions at the centre.
Last night two MPs called for Serco to be stripped of responsibility for healthcare at Yarl's Wood. John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, said: "There is an underlying conflict of interest when you have a private company which is run for profit running healthcare. The best way of ensuring openness, transparency and avoiding conflict of interest, and ensuring that people are getting a fair standard of healthcare, is to have it run by the NHS.
Will future doctors (GPs and Consultants) working for such private companies risk being “looked at” by the GMC?
They are not as lucky as another person I read about:
Reuters: David Steeds:

Mr. David William Howitt Steeds is Independent Non-Executive Director of Jetion Holdings Limited. Mr. Steeds was a member of the team that built up Serco Group plc as one of the UK’s support services companies and then joined DERA (now QinetiQ Group plc) as corporate development director.

QinetiQ: Ten former civil servants at the Ministry of Defence who made more than £100m in one day from the privatisation of its research agency are today accused by MPs of behaving "dishonourably" in arranging the sale. A report from the Commons public accounts committee on the part-sale of QinetiQ accuses the 10 of a "serious conflict of interest" in selling the idea to the MoD without explaining they stood to benefit personally from the sale.

Mr. Steeds is currently non-executive chairman of Telspec plc, and non-executive director of Tinci Holdings Ltd., a company listed on AIM. He is a former chief executive of the Private Finance Panel, the UK government agency previously responsible for the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). He was conferred a Degree of Bachelor of Arts by Cambridge University in June 1970, a Master of Arts in industrial relations by Warwick University in July 1972 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in England & Wales with Coopers & Lybrand in 1974. Mr. Steeds is considered to be an independent nonexecutive director.

Then I read:
Serco acquired a GP out of hours service in Wales by buying out a company called Clinical Solutions UK. Between 19th October 2004 (only 2 weeks into the contract), and March 2005 Cardiff Local Health Board awarded the company £58,726 to manage what the company claimed were unprecedented levels of demand. According to the Welsh Audit Office, “when we examined the figures we found that the supposed extra demand simply wasn’t there”,
Serco is a provider of ‘PFI’ hospitals, including being part of the Octagon consortium that made an over £100 million windfall ( £100million !!!) keeping the overwhelming amount to be shared amongst the consortium. In a scathing report, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee accused the private consortium involved in the rebuilding of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital of "lining investors' pockets" and putting the trust at increased risk of further losses.

A private firm that was controversially chosen to provide out-of-hours services in Cardiff has sold its contract for a 'significant' profit after just five months.
In a deal that has outraged GPs, Clinical Solutions last week struck a deal with Serco, a Leeds-based firm that has been involved in hospital PFI contracts.
GPs accused Clinical Solutions of having provided an 'appalling' service and of profiteering at the expense of patients.
Board members of Cardiff local health board, which chose the company, were also understood to be furious after having been told nothing of the sale until after it had happened.


Serco Group plc (Serco), the international service company, is pleased to announce that it is expanding and strengthening its UK pathology business with the addition of a leading NHS foundation trust to its joint venture to form the UK's largest single provider of pathology services.
Under the agreement, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (King's) has joined GSTS Pathology, the joint venture between Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (Guy's and St Thomas') and Serco GSTS Pathology has been awarded a ten-year contract valued at around £300m, starting October 2010, as the principal provider of pathology for King's.  It is anticipated that the agreement will result in incremental revenue to Serco over the term of the King's contract of approximately £110m.

Concern about price of complex testing
GSTS’s ambitions were revealed at a CCSC pathology subcommittee meeting by Guy’s and St Thomas’s Local Negotiating Committee chair Anthony Wierzbicki.

London chemical pathologist Dr Wierzbicki, who works for GSTS while on secondment from Guy’s and St Thomas’s, said he believed the price of complex testing would ‘increase significantly’ if and when GSTS took over a ‘critical mass’ of the market.

He also had concerns about the terms and conditions of seconded consultants.

Dr Cox said that while their ‘activities day to day’ were managed by GSTS, seconded staff retained their NHS rights.

CCSC pathology subcommittee chair Anne Thorpe said she was ‘very concerned’ about NHS consultants being seconded to privately-run enterprises.

'Terms and conditions of service must not be downgraded or ignored'

BMA central consultants and specialists committee chair Mark Porter (pictured) said ‘Pathology services are vital to the NHS and to patients. Putting them out to private or shared ownership in this way can be portrayed as change for the better. Too often though the experience of consultant pathologists is that an assertive management sees them as work units rather than integrated members of an NHS team. Terms and conditions of service must not be downgraded or ignored in the pursuit of price efficiency.’

Concerns about NHS marketisation prompted the BMA to launch its Look After Our NHS campaign.

But Guy’s and St Thomas’s associate medical director Jonathan Edgeworth said: ‘The contract expects a 30 per cent efficiency improvement over the next three years and we have already developed new tests and driven down phlebotomy and cervical screening waiting times. I sit on the trust side and hold GSTS to account. Because it is a 50-50 split half of any surplus comes back to the trust.’"

I know when I snorkel I need to be aware of good looking things!!!

©2010 Am Ang Zhang



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