Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Truth About Andrew Lansley, The Lobbyist and the NHS

Over the Next few months, the Tories will attempt to rubber-stamp the process that will change the NHS for good. Helping the Conservative government to push through their health and social care NHS reform bill is a man called Bill Morgan who is currently employed as a Special Adviser on health policy by the health secretary Andrew Lansley at the Department of Health. (DoH)

This is not the first time that Bill Morgan and Andrew Lansley have worked together, in 2005 and 2007, Bill Morgan was a Tory adviser working on a wide range of Conservative health policies and also assisting Lansley who was then the shadow health secretary to prepare for parliamentary questions.

So who exactly is Bill Morgan and why has he been parachuted into such a position of power?

“Mr Morgan is a former lobbyist who joined Andrew Lansley’s office at the Department of Health in July 2010 has been director for the health arm of Mandate Communications, a public relations company which has since merged with MHP communications.
Head of Mandate's health practice, Mike Birtwistle blogged on Mr Morgan's appointment:
"Personally, I can think of no one better to advise the incoming Secretary of State. Bill has a sharp policy mind, allied to a clear instinct for politics and he is fiercely loyal to his bosses. These talents will be needed as Andrew Lansley seeks to steer the NHS through choppy financial waters whilst also embarking on a major programme of structural and system reform. Civil servants will have to get used to Bill scrutinising their figures and recommendations, but I have no doubt that the end result will be better as a result of it.
Clearly we will be sad to see Bill move on - he has been a great colleague and he will continue to be a good friend. Health Mandate's clients and our team of consultants have obviously benefitted from Bill's insights into the direction of Conservative policy. Now, as he prepares to take up a new role, we look forward to continuing to be at the heart of the major policy debates which will shape the future of the NHS."

It's clear that these reforms were being built long before the Tories came to power in 2010, which makes a complete liar out of David Cameron when in opposition he promised NHS staff and the public that there would be "no more top down reorganisation in the NHS", when he made that promise he already knew that he and Lansley were going to oversee the biggest reforms in the NHS entire 60 year history, Mr Cameron is guilty of deliberately misleading NHS staff and the general public!
MHP’s clients include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Tesco Stores. All three companies have signed up to the Conservative-led government's Public Health Responsibility Deal which replaced the Food Standards Agency. It seems an odd thing to do as the last time the Tories were in power they were dogged with food and health crisis for a decade, remember salmonella in eggs and BSE?  The FSA was performing well, yet the government abolished it and deregulated the food industry, giving companies more freedom and power.
The health secretary Andrew Lansley, who was responsible for the Responsibility Deal, also has past links to organisations representing big companies.
Lansley was a paid director of marketing agency Profero until December 2009. During this time Lansley was also Shadow Secretary of State for Health.
Current clients of Profero include Marks and Spencers and, in its Australian branch, Pizza Hut.
Drinks manufacturer Diageo, producers of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness among others, was added to the company’s client list in February 2011. Diageo provided the health select committee with written evidence in favour of the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Was the abolition of the FSA the result of the lobbying power of Bill Morgan? It also helped that Morgan knew the health secretary personally, the very man who became responsible for overseeing the old Food Standards Agency and the FSA was one of the first casualties of the incoming Tory-led government in July 2010!
The 'Responsibility Deal'   is little more than a favour to the government's friends in big business. Is it really feasible to expect big business, which makes billions every year by marketing sugary, fatty and unhealthy foods to willingly limit its own profiteering?
In October 2010 the Department of Health records shows that Mr Morgan attended a breakfast meeting with representatives from his old company, Health Mandate.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The breakfast meeting hosted by Mandate was between Mr Morgan and a range of healthcare stakeholders, including several charities, to update them on the government’s NHS plans. He has undertaken similar engagements hosted by other organisations.’
“Mr Morgan’s departmental hospitality records show meetings with other companies and organisations, however, Mandate are the only public relations company logged.
“… Earlier this year leaked emails between Bill Morgan and private healthcare company appeared to show that, Tribal provided the DoH with a list of pro-privatisation GPs to help convince ministers and the public of the need for further NHS privatisation.

Bill Morgan's Dealings with The Private Sector

Pro-reform GPs are a key front in the public relations offensive behind UK health minister Lansley's health and social care bill, which is currently going through parliament. Internal emails obtained by SpinWatch revealed that in December 2010 Morgan was supplied with a list of friendly GPs by Kingsley Manning of leading healthcare consultancy firm Tribal Group. Tribal confirmed it was in discussions with some of the GPs on the list of future lucrative contracts. Manning's email to Morgan said:
“Further to our conversation, please find attached a list of GPs you may want to contact with respect to the launch of Consortia Pathfinders; we haven’t briefed them so somebody would need to talk to them before they were exposed to the press.”
Manning initially claimed that Tribal had “no discussions” with Lansley or his department about helping the government sell its bill. He admitted having dealings with Morgan but denied supplying tame GPs for the government’s spin campaign.
“We certainly wouldn’t do that, we are not in the business of acting as a voice piece for the government. There is significant merit in these reforms. But it is not Tribal’s policy to promote [them] on behalf of the government,” he said.
However, when told his email to Morgan had been released under freedom of information legislation, Manning claimed Morgan had requested the list, which he admitted may contain the names of GP pathfinder consortia with whom Tribal is in commercial discussions. Manning also conceded that the government’s campaign had so far failed to persuade most patients, NHS staff and suppliers of the case for reform. (Powerhouse)

The Tribal Group is a consulting business, which describes itself as "focused on improving the delivery of public services."
It operates in the UK "in partnership with a wide range of organisations across the public sector, including government departments and agencies; the NHS, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and health providers; schools, colleges and universities; and local authorities." It also operates in 65 countries around the world.
In August 2010, Tribal's shares shot up after talk of a takeover came to light. In the longer term, Tribal was tipped to be one of the winners from government cuts, with the public sector turning to the company for advice on how to reduce costs. It sold its health and government business to rivals Capita for £15.87m in April 2011

"Denationalisation of health care"

In 2010 Tribal Newchurch saw a major opportunity in providing infrastructure for new general practice (GP) consortiums. These consortia are a key proposal of the UK Coalition government's 2010 Health White Paper. The plans would see GPs being handed a £80 billion annual commissioning budget, a policy that has been labelled the "most revolutionary" change in the NHS since it was created.There are fears that the private sector will be invited to take over if consortia slip up.
In a press release outlining Tribal's response to the government's proposals and their implications,Tribal Newchurch's director of business development, Kingsley Manning, said:
"This white paper could amount to the denationalisation of health care services in England... It could result in the biggest transfer of employment out of the public sector since the significant reforms seen in 1980s. As NHS trusts become foundation trusts, this will see the transfer of billions of tax-payers’ assets to employee-controlled businesses... The old certainties are gone: the NHS cannot be protected from economic reality any longer."
However, in an interview published in August 2010, Manning struck a more cautious note commenting on whether the private sector could take over commissioning from GPs entirely: 'It's difficult to see how legislation could ever devolve responsibility for NHS services fully to a private company."
But Tribal - like UnitedHealth UK, HumanaBupa and Aetna UK - are clearly positioning themselves to help GPs commission services: Manning again: "If consortia are going to fly, they have to use the best available technology. We provide services GPs will struggle to replicate." How much Tribal and others can expect to earn from the NHS from helping GPs is still in question: "There is a vital discussion over how much (GP consortia's) management allowance will be," says Mr Manning. "If the management fee is too small it may not be financially viable for companies to provide support."

 "They Are All In It Together"
Tribal has funded the influential think tank Policy Exchange, which was co-founded by Francis Maude MP, who is now Cabinet Office minister, and Nick Boles, who is now a Tory MP for Grantham and worked with Maude to ready Cameron’s policies for government. 
Tribal funded a report by the  Policy Exchange in January 2010 called 'Controlling Public Spending: The NHS in a period of tight funding'. ( The "Policy Exchange" is David Cameron's "favourite" think tank!)

Keeping it in the family
This is not the first time that Lansley has found himself in controversial waters, he has previously been exposed as accepting a £22,000 donation to his constituency office from the Tory donor and hedge fund director John Nash, who is also chairman of Care UK, another private healthcare company which stands to make millions from lucrative NHS contracts under the new reforms. John Nash and his wife have also donated £100,000 to the Tory party coffers.
Andrew Lansley's wife Sally runs a public affairs business which boasts about advising drug and food companies. Sally Low, the managing director of Low Associates, denied being a lobbyist, saying she provided clients with “strategic policy” advice. At a business conference less than two years ago, however, Miss Low gave a lecture on improving lobbying skills, where she advised people to “establish positive relationships with decision-makers before you need their help”.
“Pursue your lobbying internally until you hit a wall,” she added.
Declaring these "activities" in the member's register does exonerate them from being a conflict of interests, which there clearly is with this health secretary. David Cameron said he was going to clean up politics, in fact, he has turned the water from being slightly muddy to outright murky. This government is looking more corrupt with each passing day.


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