Patients are furious that London Clinical Commissioning Groups have allowed a large number of GP practices to be taken over by the US health insurance giant – Centene – and they are challenging the decision in the courts, with the aim of getting it reversed.
The papers seeking permission for a Judicial Review have been submitted to the courts. To cover the costs, a CrowdJustice fundraising appeal goes live today, Thursday 20th May at 6pm. Here’s the CrowdJustice webpage; if you agree, please donate anything you can afford.
Following a public outcry Ms Anjna Khurana, a patient at Hanley Primary Care Centre in Islington and also a local councillor representing Tollington Ward, has stepped forward to represent over 375,000 NHS patients who were told nothing about the American takeover.
Anjna hopes people will understand why she’s making the legal challenge and support her case, which she thinks affects all NHS patients.
“I am so afraid that our NHS is being dismantled bit by bit, with the private sector playing a bigger and bigger part. I need to trust my doctor, and how can I do that if they work for a company like Centene? A company that has a record of fraud in the US. I also worry that my personal NHS medical data will be used by Operose Health for purposes that I have not been informed about or agreed to. ”
NHS campaign groups, Keep Our NHS Public and 999 Call for the NHS, agree with Anjna and say that the decision by North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group (NCLCCG) to allow the change of control should be declared unlawful.
Louise Irvine of KONP, and a London GP, said:
“North Central London CCG’s decision to allow the changes took place well away from the glare of public scrutiny. The NHS Constitution demands transparency and people rightly expect accountability in NHS decision-making especially about such important matters as who runs our GP practices. Please support the Crowd Justice appeal as this is now the only way to hold those who took this secretive decision to account”.
The 49 GP practices across London were previously run by a company, AT Medics Ltd, that was set up and directed by 6 local GPs, but on the 10th February 2021 the company was handed over to Operose Health Ltd., a UK subsidiary of the Centene corporation. Clinical Commissioning Groups were told by AT Medics that the transfer of ownership would have no effect on patient services.
Baroness Joan Bakewell said:
I recently spoke in the House of Lords about the iniquity of allowing a profit-making American Company to buy surgeries that serve the NHS.I feel strongly that the NHS should remain our own and I believe many of the public would agree with me if they were fully aware of what is involved. So I believe the government has a strong case to answer. That is why I am backing this Judicial Review.’
Steven Carne of 999 Call for the NHS is also concerned about further takeovers by American companies. He said:
“What is most worrying is that the failure of the various CCGs to carry out proper scrutiny means they’ve allowed a multi-million dollar American corporation to hold a major position within the NHS. And the people who will suffer are the patients who, of course, were told nothing.”
Anjna is represented by Leigh Day solicitors and barristers from Doughty St. Chambers and Landmark Chambers. Commenting on the Judicial Review, Leigh Day solicitor Anna Dews said:
“Our client is genuinely concerned that the decision to approve the change of control at AT Medics Limited has been conducted unlawfully. There has been an extremely limited opportunity for public scrutiny, despite the obvious ramifications for patients. The public have a right to be involved in decisions such as this, especially when it involves changing circumstances surrounding their highly sensitive health data”.