Friday, 15 January 2010

Andy Burnham - What a prize pillock! - Health Donations.

Andy Burnham has made a right old tit of himself today. The London Evening Standard's Paul Waugh writes:

Burnham demands answers on Lansley/CareUK link

Looks like the CCHQ donations vetting team must have missed this one.

The Daily Tel's eagle-eyed Holly Watt and Rosa Prince spotted yesterday's Electoral Commission new register had a key addition.

Andrew Lansley's personal office received a cool £21K from John Nash. So far so boring, in that Nash is a private equity boss. But Nash is also chairman of Care UK, one of the largest private providers of healthcare to the NHS, via walk-in centres, GPs surgeries etc.

On the face of it, this risks a potentially glaring conflict of interest. Here's a firm which gets huge chunks of its £400 million business from the NHS and a politician who hopes to be the next Health Secretary running the NHS.

CCHQ say that John Nash has "a wide range of interests of which Care UK is just one". "Mr Lansley did not solicit this donation. Donations from private individuals in no way influence policy-making decisions" a spokesman says.

But policy, as it happens, includes opening up the NHS to even more private provision.

Still, CCHQ says there are no plans to hand the cash back.

Now, Andy Burnham has written to David Cameron to demand a few answers.

Unfortunately for Jungle Burnham (he's thicker than forest) he forgot to take account of the law of Sod. It turns out that our glorious leader Gordon Brown is not whiter than white. Paul Waugh has a follow up story:

Gordon's links to private healthcare

I've posted separately on the Lansley link to CareUK. Labour are v keen on a row here.

But what's this?

Turns out Gordon Brown himself received a donation from a man with strong links to the private health world.

Lord Leitch, the Chairman of BUPA, a private healthcare company with customers in 200 countries, donated £5,000 to Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign.

On 21 May 2007, Gordon Brown received £5,000 from Lord Leitch for his campaign for the Labour leadership. Two years previously, in June 2005*, Lord Leitch had become a non-executive director of BUPA and in November 2006, he was elevated to the role of Chairman.

On top of this, the last time Lord Leitch spoke in Parliament, he spoke in favour of the work of the private sector within the NHS:

‘When we debate healthcare in the UK, all too often the focus is on the NHS alone. Yet the independent sector is more important than ever, providing services directly to patients, residents, insurers, and to the NHS itself. Going forward, all of us must think in terms of partnership, not rivalry…I hope that this legislation will help consign to the dustbin of history the false dichotomies between public and private, and also between healthcare and social care.’ (Lords Hansard, 25 March 2008, Cols. 485-6)

Will Andy Burnham be writing to ask his PM about the connection?

Oh dear, oh dear. Gordon will not be happy with Andrew.

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