by Nasso Christou, Haringey TUSC
Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters joined Keep Our NHS Public, and other local campaigners, including Unite the Union and the local trades union council, for a flash picket event outside the Laurels GP practice in Haringey, north London on 19 March.
Centene Corporation, an American health insurance giant, has acquired the Laurels through its UK subsidiary — Operose Health Ltd. This corporation has so far acquired 49 GP practices in 19 London boroughs covering over 370,000 patients, and 21 further GP practices across the country.
It is now the biggest GP group in the UK. Even the Daily Mail called Centene a ‘profit-greedy American health giant’.
Privatisation has to be exposed and challenged. Friday’s action alerted the local community and users of the Laurels. Many were completely unaware that their GP surgery had been sold to a US corporation, and were understandably shocked.
Jobs cut, pay lower
Although in theory these companies have to maintain GP services, they are known to cut jobs and employ lower-paid staff to increase their profits. They have closed GP surgeries, if they are judged to be unprofitable, leaving patients stranded and having to travel long distances.
Their main interest though is to control this key NHS service, with a view to greater profits if private healthcare is expanded, presenting opportunities to make money by harvesting patient data.
This Tory government is rewarding NHS staff with a pay cut for their heroic service during the pandemic. Despite the Tories toe-curling, constant references to ‘our NHS’, they are selling off as much of it as they can on the quiet.