Problems at the heart of hospital privatisation plans

I WAS pleased to note that Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, and others have stated that no imposition of polyclinics, or the compulsory transfer of NHS assets, will be involved under Lord Darzi s plans. May I expect a refund of the value of the privati

I WAS pleased to note that Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, and others have stated that no imposition of polyclinics, or the compulsory transfer of NHS assets, will be involved under Lord Darzi's plans. May I expect a refund of the value of the privatised elements (I calculate 9/20ths of a pint) of my donation of 15 pints to the NHS over the decade 1973-82?

Presumably an enhancement of the value would be required to recognise the fact that I, unlike some donors to the NHS-acquired blood bank, was never a drug addict, and the fact that 'private' hospitals and patients necessarily receive blood products on lower criteria of urgency than those demanded of NHS patients?

Would I be wrong to expect at least 26 years of interest for the privatisation of my donation, especially because I made a request for the reservation of my donations for NHS patients in 1973?

I recollect, when UCLH acquired the National Heart Hospital in 2001, the Guardian reported that apart from acquiring 800 staff, the NHS ring-fenced 600 bed-days per annum for 'private' patients. I also recollect that in 2001 UCLH was given by the NHS, or enabled to acquire, the NHSS at a bargain price, according to Milburn and Blears. Now the UCLH Chief Executive, Robert Naylor, sees his first priority to pay off the PFI scheme donors.


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The acquisition of the NHH was to facilitate an increase in UCLH heart experts and increase its operational throughput in heart operations. In 2007 Louise Boden, Nursing Director, told a PEAT team that "no heart transplants" were taking place in the UCLH. Months later Peter Dixon, chairman, stated that "no heart operations" were taking place in UCLH.

In 2006 the UCLH sold off one of its eight hospital sites, the Middlesex, for £197million, according to chief executive Robert Naylor. Recent issues of the Health Service Journal noted that UCLH has the tenth highest level of 'private' patients and that, as Naylor himself apparently recognises, by the end of its 32-year PFI contract, UCLH will have paid an aggregate of £1.3billion on assets of about £450million.

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Yet a Part I UCLH board meeting was told by Mr Dixon that the board had "no resources" to deal with "extraneous correspondence". In 2005, on the hospital's open day, I responded to a press office questionnaire with a 3-page letter of questions - for which I still await replies. Presumably £197million is sufficient to buy paper for replies?

At the time I was a member of the UCLH Forum, which former Health Minister Lord Warner described as "the statutory independent organisation representing patients and public". Apart from the fact that I was denied the right to observe Part II (business) meetings of the Board, I noted that the UCLH Council enjoyed "representation" from 14 City ward, eight of which are resident-free (2001 Census). Presumably business voters (some, possibly, non-taxpayers) - now enjoy the further perks of NHS governance?

Is this an example of what is meant by "world class commissioning" in the NHS?

I understand the Blood Transfusion Service, by inadvertently destroying its blood donor records, cannot screen out my product should I be found to have acquired a serious illness.

D SHEPHERD

Vivian Avenue, NW4

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