Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NHS & Netcare: Beauty & Deception

South Africa may be very beautiful:

©Am Ang Zhang 2005

A PRIVATE healthcare firm whose wealthy clients were given donor organs bought from children is in talks to run transplant operations for the NHS.

Department of Health officials have already had three meetings this year with representatives of the General Healthcare Group about taking over NHS work.

But a subsidiary of the General ­Healthcare Group – Netcare – was last year fined nearly £700,000 after pleading guilty to illegally transplanting human organs in South Africa.

Parliament 10 Jun 2011:  Netcare Healthcare UK 
Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he or officials of his Department have met representatives of(a) Netcare, (b) Network Healthcare Holdings Ltd and (c) General Healthcare Group since his appointment; and if he will make a statement. 

Mr Simon Burns: Ministers have not had meetings with these organisations, Officials at the Department have routine operational contact with General Healthcare Group as part of their involvement with the provision of services through the Extended Choice Network.

Representatives from the General Healthcare Group met with officials on 27 January 2011, 14 April 2011 and 6 June 2011.                             Hansard: written answers

South Africa may be famous or infamous for a different kind of safari: 

Western Cape Health MEC Theunis Botha told reporters on Sunday that he would meet with his management team on Monday to discuss the Netcare kidney debacle and the new twist of alleged involvement of Western Cape hospitals.

The Western Cape is known worldwide for surgical safaris, which are apparently sold as popular tourist packages. 

"We have some of the world's best physicians here and our region is a popular health destination. There is much responsibility that comes with this," said Botha. "At the end of the day it is about the safety of patients for us and with that also ethical integrity."

Mail & Guardian
Apr 29 2011  
On May 27, four Durban surgeons are due to stand trial for their part in South Africa's kidney trafficking scandal. 

But evidence in the Mail & Guardian's possession suggests that top Netcare executives are fortunate not to be standing beside them.

"Kidneygate" is the long-running saga of how -- between about 2000 and 2003 -- about 200 Israeli patients with kidney disease were brought to South Africa to receive organs from living donors who were presented as their relatives.

The donors were in fact poor Brazilians, Israelis and Romanians who were recruited by international organ traffickers and paid a relatively modest sum to give up a precious kidney -- a criminal offence under South African law.

To make matters worse, at least five of the donors are now known to have been legal minors at the time of the operations.

The four doctors -- John Robbs, Ariff Haffejee, Neil Christopher and Mahadev Naidoo -- are bitter at finding themselves at the short end of a chain of ethical dissimulation.

In theory, the buck stops with the doctor doing the cutting, but in reality, the transplant surgeons were little more than skilled mechanics dealing with bodies on an assembly line, maintained, paid for and legally underwritten by the big healthcare factory that is the Netcare Group.

Nov 15, 2010 11:54 AM

"We sincerely and unreservedly apologise...," said group CEO Richard Friedland in Johannesburg at the release of the group's annual results for the year ending September.

Netcare was fined R7.8 million last week after it pleaded guilty to unlawful surgeries in which human kidneys were illegally acquired and transplanted at one of the company's hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Friedland said it was "not acceptable and we certainly don't condone it".

But wait a minute: You don't condone it but you built a new wing of a hospital for it.

According to Prof Robbs, a total of around 220 illegal transplants were performed at these hospitals.

The current charges only relate to 109 operations conducted at St Augustine’s from 2001 to 2003 involving the recruitment of donors from Brazil and Romania to donate kidneys to Israeli recipients. But Prof Robbs claimed that St Augustine’s only handled the overflow of the transplant tourism scheme at the other two Netcare hospitals and the Charlotte Maxeke.

“This whole thing started in Johannesburg but they couldn’t cope with the waiting list and decided to go to Durban. They built the Caritas wing at St Augustine’s especially for the transplants because it was going so well,” Prof Robbs told Independent Newspapers.

Looks like nobody paid any attention in the UK:

Johannesburg, South Africa - In a first for South Africa's private healthcare industry, Network Healthcare Holdings Limited (Netcare) and the UK-based Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust (MBHT), a National Health Service Trust, have entered into an historic agreement whereby a team of 40 South African medical and healthcare personnel will travel to the UK to perform over 800 cataract operations on patients resident in that country.

Known as 'Operation Cataract', Netcare will work in conjunction with MBHT in an attempt to address an extensive backlog of patients awaiting cataract operations in the North Lancashire and South Cumbria area of England.

Ian Cumming, chief executive of the MBHT said "The initiative will have significant benefits for patients requiring cataract procedures, as those residing in a wide catchment area around Lancaster have experienced waiting periods for surgery of over one year. This Trust subscribes to the principles that NHS patients must have access to the very best and safest medical care, as quickly as possible. We have chosen Netcare as our partner in helping us reduce waiting times, as we believe the group also subscribes to these principles."

What principles do you really mean?

Fake and kidneys:

Here is what healthcare group Netcare wants you to believe: 109 kidney transplants were performed at the St Augustine's Hospital in Durban, racking up bills of about R21-million, and senior management wasn't paying any attention. 

It couldn't have been expected to notice that 109 well-off, Hebrew-speaking Israelis had passed through the doors in quick succession, accompanied by 109 poor people, most of them Portuguese-speaking Brazilians. Neither could it be expected to question the affidavits signed by all 218 stating that they were relatives. 

The Telegraph:
The worst performer was the Greater Manchester Surgical Centre, run by South African group Netcare. There, only 56 per cent of contracted procedures were carried out. Netcare received nearly £38m for “phantom” operations.                        

SOUTH Africa's Netcare has become one of the world's biggest private healthcare organisations after beating three international companies to win control of Britain's General Healthcare Group (GHG) in a R23.7-billion deal.

The company won a controlling stake in the British hospital group on Monday, after a bout of frenetic dealmaking that saw management teams in Johannesburg and London go for 96 hours without sleep.

The bid beat direct competition from three international private equity rivals - KKR, Cinven and Blackstone - for the 49-hospital chain.

quote 'We were the underdogs, the total outsiders in this - people warned us that we didn't stand a chance against these huge bidding companies.' - Richard Friedland, Netcare CEO quote

But wait, these are the very clever underdogs that said sorry last November and were found out again this year!!!

"Netcare's immoral and criminal behaviour shows us that the private health company's primary concern is not to improve and provide quality healthcare to South Africans but how much money they can make from the plight of the sick and poor people,"     Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla

Kidney transplant scandal spreads

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