On Thursday 23rd February, Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee chickened out of referring the hospital cuts plans to the Secretary of State for Health, despite the clear grounds – and arguably their duty – for doing this.
In contrast, Lincolnshire Scrutiny Committee has had the good sense to refer the overnight closure of Grantham A&E to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health (and failed Marmalade salesperson – as Save Grantham A&E campaigner Sarah Stock pointed out.)
Mr Hunt has in turn asked the Independent Reconconfiguration Review Panel to investigate the A&E closure.
Cue general rejoicing among Save Grantham A&E campaigners, followed by the more sober question: Do you have faith in Jeremy Hunt to sort it out?
Chair of Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel is Tory peer
Save Grantham A&E campaigner and NHS Detective Paula Bartram did a little digging and came up with some disturbing information:
“The more I learn, the angrier I get.”
Lord Ribeiro’s current House of Lords Register of interests shows no PwC connection, but in 2012 when the Health and Social Care Act was going through Parliament, Lord Ribeiro was an Adviser on hospital reorganisation for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a company that is heavily involved in consultancy services to the NHS.
PricewaterhouseCooper – in the thick of it
NHS chiefs in Coventry and Warwickshire recently forked out £343,000 to PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) for advice on ‘saving money’ in their local Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
In 2016 a PricewaterhouseCooper steering group produced a report tacitly endorsing the current top – down NHS redisorganisation known as Sustainability and Transformation Plans; the report proposes changes to NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health in order to devolve the NHS to “local areas”.
NHS Trusts regulator NHS Improvement has ties with PricewaterhouseCooper
This PricewaterhouseCooper report, Redrawing the health and social care architecture, was supported by Jim Mackey, Head of NHS Improvement, where he is seconded from Northumbria NHS Trust – the first Trust to morph into an Accountable Care Organisation.
(The Northumberland Accountable Care Organisation was due to go live on 1 April 2017, but last week Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group announced an indefinite delay because their finances are a mess – a fact that NHS England had asked to be covered up.)
Accountable Care Organisations are an American import. They are based on the Health Maintenance Organisations passed into law by President Nixon, on the grounds that they would increase health insurance company profits by delivering less care to patients.
Jim Mackey, Head of NHS Improvement, recently drew the ire of West Yorkshire & Harrogate Joint Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee Chair, Cllr Peter Gruen, for saying that,
‘Local politicians should be managed’.
NHS Improvement’s support for the PricewaterhouseCooper report is unsurprising: the NHS Improvement Board Chair, Ed Smith, was formerly Global Assurance Chief Operating Officer and Strategy Chairman of PricewaterhouseCooper, where he worked for 30 years.
PricewaterhouseCooper tentacles extend into Care Quality Commission
PricewaterhouseCooper is also the internal auditor of the Care Quality Commission, where part of its role is to manage potential conflicts of interest.
In December 2015, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) appointed a new chair, Peter Wyman, who was accused by some MPs on the House of Commons Select Committee of having a conflict of interest because of his 40 year employment at PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) until 2011.
Paula Sherriff, the Dewsbury MP, said ,
“PwC, where he was a partner for many years, is paid by the CQC as their auditor – ironically they even wrote the policy on conflicts of interests. And they also work for some of the companies that the CQC is meant to regulate…
The revolving door between private and public sectors leaves people wondering whether decisions are made in the interests of patients or profits.”
Is there no end to the spinning?
PricewaterhouseCooper have a contract with South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group for planning Lincolnshire Health And Care, the clinical workstream of the Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan programme.
So the Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel whose Chair advises PricewaterhouseCooper is going to investigate the Scrutiny Committee’s referral of an A&E overnight closure, which is part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan which PricewaterhouseCooper has been paid to work on.
When was the last time the Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel upheld a Scrutiny Committee rejection of NHS cuts and closures? It certainly didn’t work for Devon County Council when they referred the downgrade of Torrington Hospital to a a health and wellbeing hub to the Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel.
Save Grantham A&E campaigner Melissa Darcey said,
“It’s great that the Scrutiny Committee have referred the Grantham A&E overnight closure, but that’s it now, isn’t it, they have done ‘all they can do’, haven’t they?
The Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel may review it but their recommendations are only advisory so the Secretary of State doesn’t have to and will not listen. Particularly because the head of Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan met with Simon Stevens last week and he is very happy with the progress. The council and the government are gunning for the acute hospital trust, ULHT, and not the Clinical Commissioning Group or NHS England And the Independent Reconfiguration Review Panel is headed by a conservative Lord, so is not independent at all.”