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Nurses raise concerns about commissioners' private company links


Nurses have raised concerns about a second group of GP commissioners in the north of England with links to a private company seeking to provide NHS services.

Three members of the clinical commissioning group for County Durham and Darlington belong to practices involved in joint ventures with Assura Medical, according to the Royal College of nursing Northern region.

CCG members Alison McNaughton Jones and Andrea Jones both belonged to partners in Assura Darlington, and Kate Bidwell was a member of Assura Derwentside, the RCN said.

The union raised concerns because musculo-skeletal services for primary care trust NHS County Durham and Darlington are being transferred to Assura Medical.

RCN Northern region director Glenn Turp said: “The RCN Northern region believes that it is completely inappropriate that private companies can have a vested interest in both the commissioning and provision of NHS services.”

A spokesperson for NHS County Durham and Darlington said due process had been followed in awarding the musculo-skeletal services contract to Assura.

Last month Wirral GP commissioning Consortium awarded a place on a register of “any qualified providers” to Peninsula Health Limited Liability Partnership, another Assura joint venture with links to most of the GP practices on the group’s board.

A spokesman for PCT cluster NHS Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral said no consortium member whose practice is part of Peninsula was involved in the selection of the providers.

An Assura Medical spokesman said: “If a CCG member is to make a decision about a service provided by Assura Medical when they have a vested financial interest they would be required to absent themselves from any decision-making process.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • no we are not going to privatise the nhs..never

    what a load of crap!!

    its started already

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  • It's not just the commissioners, half of the house of lords who put the bill through had vested interests through private medical companies, and what about the government themselves? Lansley, the Blairs, and dozens of others, all responsible for the privatising of the NHS have links to private medical companies!!!

    With the scandal of lobbying in parliament about to blow up, surely there is a legal challenge someone can stop these reforms with?

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  • Probably why the Tories are not willing to address the conflict of interest issue as it would affect the politicians creating these bills as well. Someone wrote an article recently, I forget who so I can't reference it for you, about the fact that there is so much alcohol swashing around the lobby that the Lords have little idea what they're voting for anyways.
    Doesn't inspire much confidence does it?!

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  • michael stone

    There is 'lip service' in the legislation, etc, to the idea that GPs should not be on both ends of the commissioning process. But much of this was pushed into the NHS Regulations, instead of the Act, in my opinion to make this weak.
    However, in any such situation the two laymen who must be on the commissioning body, should forcefully object to any such commissioning be permitted - that is the main reason, those laymen are there, in theory to keep an eye on the GPs, and to prevent this sort of profiteering.
    This was all debated, at length, a few months ago, on this 'site.

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