2:33 PM June 9, 2022
Campaigners are warning that changes affecting the NHS in North Central London and the surrounding areas could open the door to more involvement from private companies.
Campaign group Defend Enfield NHS is holding a protest at Palmers Green Triangle, in Enfield, from 11am to 12.30pm on Saturday (June 11), to put pressure on local NHS leaders to keep private companies out and alert the public to what is happening.
The protest is part of a national day of action organised by public ownership campaign group We Own It and supported by Keep Our NHS Public and Unite Community.
The Health and Care Act was passed by parliament in April and comes into effect on July 1.
The Act organises the NHS across England into 42 new NHS bodies called Integrated Care Systems (ICS), which will be overseen by an Integrated Care Board (ICB).
Campaigners claim private companies may have roles on the new North Central London ICS board that will oversee healthcare in Camden, Barnet, Haringey, Islington and Enfield.
They are calling on Mike Cooke, the new chairman of the ICS board to commit to banning private companies or people who work for them from making decisions in the local NHS.
Johnbosco Nwogbo, lead campaigner at We Own It, said: “Opening the boardroom doors to private companies who could stand to benefit financially from decisions made by the board about the healthcare available to people in North Central London looks bad and smells bad.
“These changes to the NHS will not be to the benefit of ordinary users, many of whom can hardly get appointments with their doctor as it is.
“There is no doubt that they will benefit private companies whose primary goal is to extract profit from already skint NHS budgets. NHS leaders must commit not to allow private companies to continue to have a role in our local NHS bodies.”
Sue Davies, secretary of Defend Enfield NHS, said the pandemic highlighted the importance of the NHS.
“We saw how triumphantly the vaccination drive that the NHS ran went, whereas the Test and Trace programme run privately by Serco and Sitel was feckless and ineffectual,” she said.
“This shows that the changes that are coming into our NHS from July 1 should be used as an opportunity to rebuild capacity within our local NHS, so that we don’t ever have to go to private companies.”