Socialist Worker

Newcastle doctors’ anger at exclusion from planning

Issue No. 2107

Doctors in Newcastle are outraged that they have been “effectively excluded” from plans to create three new surgeries in the city – and that private medical firms have been allowed to run them instead.

Last month Newcastle and North Tyneside NHS advertised for organisations to provide the new centres, which form part of Lord Darzi’s health “reforms”.

The existing doctors’ practices, which would normally be asked to bid to run new surgeries, only became aware of them two weeks later – just three working days before the deadline.

Local doctor Gerard Reissmann told Socialist Worker that either by cock-up or conspiracy, the private sector has been given a key advantage in the bidding process.

He said, “Private firms have whole departments set up to prepare bids, and of course they can reuse earlier bids that have already proved successful elsewhere in the country.”

Gerard pointed out that there has been little attempt to assess exactly what type of extra services people in Newcastle need. Instead a one size fits all model has been hastily applied.

“One of the new surgeries is being proposed for Cowgate, in the deprived west end of Newcastle,” he said.

“It will get lots of short term funding to get started, but after that it will be competing with existing practices for both patients and resources.

“As the practice will be run by the private sector, we can expect the multinational firms that stand behind it to take some initial losses until they have driven out the competition.”

Meanwhile, health campaigners in north London are stepping up their campaign against a similar takeover in Camden.

The US multinational United Healthcare is running three surgeries there and has just been invited to draw up plans for a new polyclinic in the area.

Protests against the multinational are now being planned at the Whittington hospital, where Richard Smith, the head of United Healthcare’s European operation is due to speak at the hospital’s annual dinner.

Campaigners are hoping to be joined by health workers and activists from across London to ensure that the United Health boss can hear their message.

Tell private health companies they are not welcome in the NHS. Demonstrate 5.30-7pm, Tuesday 8 July, Whittington hospital postgraduate centre, Holborn Union building, Highgate Hill, London N19. Called by Keep Our NHS Public

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Tue 24 Jun 2008, 18:51 BST
Issue No. 2107
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