More than 100 MPs call for a halt to Cornwall’s “Kennally Care” as fears grow over NHS privatisation
31st December 2017
By Graham Smith
More than 100 Members of Parliament have now called for a halt to the break-up of the National Health Service and its replacement by Accountable Care Organisations. Cornwall is in line to see its healthcare run by an ACO from 1st April.
Early Day Motion 660, sponsored by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has so far won the support of 104 MPs – including several from the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, the Green Party, plus one Liberal Democrat and one Democratic Unionist. None of the MPs is a Conservative. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seeking to introduce Accountable Care Organisations without any scrutiny in Parliament.
The growing campaign against Accountable Care Organisations stems in part from fears about increasing privatisation of the NHS. Official figures show that, for example, Richard Branson’s Virgin Care won a record £1bn of NHS contracts last year. £3.1bn of health services were privatised despite a government pledge to reduce the proportion of care provided by private companies.
Overall, private firms scooped 267 – almost 70% – of the 386 clinical contracts that were put out to tender in England during 2016-17. They included the seven highest value contracts, worth £2.43bn between them, and 13 of the 20 most lucrative tenders.
The £3.1bn in contracts, a big rise on the previous year’s £2.4bn, prompted concern that private companies are increasingly involved in delivering care, cherry-picking the profitable parts, and undermining repeated government assurances that they play only a marginal role.
The motion says: “That this House notes the Department of Health consultation on Accountable Care Organisations which closed on 3 November 2017, which proposes changes to regulations required to facilitate the operation of an NHS Standard Contract (Accountable Care Models); further notes that the consultation states that the Government proposes to lay these regulations before Parliament in the New Year with the intention that they have legal effect from February 2018, subject to Parliamentary process; notes that these changes will have far reaching implications for commissioning in the NHS, and that concerns have been raised that Accountable Care Organisations will encourage and facilitate further private sector involvement in the NHS, and about how the new organisations will be accountable to the public; notes that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 opened up NHS commissioning to private sector interests; notes that the NHS is experiencing the largest financial squeeze in its history and there are concerns that Accountable Care Organisations could be used as a vehicle for greater rationing of treatment locally; and calls on the Government to provide parliamentary time for hon. Members to debate and vote on these proposed changes on the floor of the House.”
Some supporters of Accountable Care have sought to draw distinctions between an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO), an Accountable Care System (ACS) and an Accountable Care Partnership (ACP.) Cornwall Council insists it is setting up an Accountable Care System, with its own chief executive Kate Kennally as the Single Commissioner at the top of the new structure.
Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson and Liberal Democrat Layla Moran are among the 104 Members of Parliament to support Jeremy Corbyn’s Early Day Motion calling for a debate on Accountable Care Organisations
Ms Kennally’s rise to the top of the proposed new healthcare structure has led to the term “Kennally Care” to describe the new system. You can download and read here the November 2016 letter which precipitated Ms Kennally’s takeover as chair of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan: John Pollard letter re STP, Nov 2016.
The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and NHS Kernow would be merged to form an Accountable Care Partnership, which would sell services to the ACS.
It is not completely clear why pro-ACO local councillors should seek the make the distinction between these extremely confusing acronyms (ACO, ACS, ACP) other than to downplay the increased risk of privatisation of the NHS. The government recently published commissioning guidelines, and contracts, for Accountable Care Organisations. Paragraph 4, page 3, of the NHS guidance says: “There will be no formal restrictions on who can hold the Contract” – explaining that “non NHS bodies” can also compete in a new market environment.
In fact, within both the council and its local NHS partners, officials use the term Accountable Care Organisation and have done since at least December 2016, as a letter sent to senior managers, and obtained by Cornwall Reports, makes clear. You can download and read that letter here:reply to kk letter