Socialist Worker

Privatisation as NHS faces cash crisis

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2616

Richard Bransons Virgin Care is trousering billions

Richard Branson (Pic: Jarle Naustvik/Flickr)

Richard Branson’s Virgin empire holds around 400 contracts across the public sector from hospitals to schools and prisons. And around one third of its British subsidiaries’ turnover comes from public money, according to analysis by the Guardian newspaper.

Virgin Care won £1 billion worth of NHS contracts last year alone.

The revelations come as the NHS is in the depths of a funding and staffing crisis.

The British Medical Association’s consultants’ committee chair Dr Robert Harwood said, “We firmly believe that the NHS should be publicly funded and publicly provided.


“At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, it is vital that taxpayers’ money is used to support overstretched NHS services, not to fund multimillion-pound private contracts.”

It comes as workers at a number of NHS hospitals face the threat of being transferred to working for wholly-owned subsidiaries.These are a bridge to full-blown privatisation.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said a Labour government would “renationalise” the NHS.

And Labour politicians did back the recent successful strike against plans to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Wigan.

But Labour’s manifesto at last year’s general election only promised to make the NHS the “preferred provider” of services—not kick out all the privatisers.

Strikes by health workers can roll back privatisation.

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