(This article appeared in the New Worker, the newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain (NCPB), No. 1775, dated the 16.5.14 – Page 4).
People in Devon and Cornwall (as well as other areas of the UK), have been receiving letters from NHS England that include confidential information registered with their local GP practice. A person who lives in Torquay, for instance, recently received a letter from a NHS England office registered in St Austell, Cornwall, but which contained their name, address, telephone number and NHS number. This information had been given to the NHS England office by the local Torquay GP surgery without the prior knowledge or consent of the NHS patient concerned, violating the UK’s Data Protection Act. This policy is part of the current UK ConDem government’s ongoing plan to dismantle and privatise the National Health Service, paving the way for the re-introduction of fees when visiting the GP’s surgery, and for the paying at the point of use of all medical care in the UK.
Although these letters are being sent out under the guise of NHS England, they are actually from a private company named ‘NHS Shared Business Services’ that has been given the job by the UK government of cutting the number of people currently held on GP lists. As it stands, everyone in the UK has the right to register for their healthcare at a local GP surgery of their choice, dependent upon the geographical location of their home. Once registered, individuals are able to access NHS care free of charge at the point of use. This new NHS List Maintenance Programme is a co-operative policy carried out by NHS SBS, the local GP’s (who presumably back it), and the national government. Excluded from this exercise in NHS cutting are the millions of people affected by the reality of its implication and implementation.
Under the fallacious guise of ‘checking’ and ‘confirming’ information GP’s already know is correct, NHS SBS contacts individuals through letters that are so poorly presented so as to be considered a ‘scam’ in the harvesting of confidential information. Like everything this government does, it is semi-legal and amateurish. It works on the principle that those who fall victim to it, are not in a position to know their rights, or understand exactly what is happening. The UK government has given permission for GP’s to cut their lists through the guise of information checking. The GP’s either pass or sell this confidential information regarding individuals held locally on their lists, to the NHS SBS, who then contact these individuals and inform them that if they do not reply within a certain time limit, (usually four weeks), the NHS SBS will assume that they ‘have moved out of the area’ and are no longer eligible for NHS treatment. Once the NHS SBS takes this decision, the details of the individuals concerned are removed from their GP list and they lose their access to free primary care medical treatment. It is speculated that the UK government offers financial incentives to the NHS SBS to cut the GP lists – all done, of course, with the quiet consent of the local GP’s themselves, who are part of the British Medical Association (BMA), which was opposed to the forming of the NHS in 1948, and that remains mute to every life-threatening change the cuts in the NHS unleash on the general public. The obviously ‘business’ orientated website of NHS SBS can be accessed at the following link:
Those who receive these letters are advised to confirm their details as soon as possible to avoid being taken-off of their local GP lists. Despite the highly unprofessional and semi-legal nature of the NHS SBS, it is paid to carry-out a typical cost-cutting exercise common to the current UK ConDem government’s policies. UK citizens should share knowledge and arm themselves in advance before becoming unsuspecting victims of these abusive rightwing policies that ride rough-shod over their individual rights. It is important to understand that the NHS SBS is assisting the current UK government with its ongoing plan to privatise the National Health Service bit by bit, and is mis-using confidential and private information stored on local GP files