Protests as multinational grabs health centre

AROUND 120 patients, health care workers and members of the public protested at St Paul’s Way Medical Centre, the day before the Primary Care Trust (PCT) handed it over to multinational private company Atos Origin.

Liz Cowell

Virtually every GP practice in Tower Hamlets borough in east London was represented. Two of these practices had unsuccessfully put in a bid for St Paul’s Way.

One of these practices described the sell-off as a “tragedy” and felt the bidding process didn’t seem a “level playing field”.

But, of course, if you are competing with large multinational companies with access to business facilities to produce impressive-looking bids, it won’t be.

The PCT says patients of the practice had complained about problems in the past getting to see a doctor but “from March they will be able to book appointments from eight o’clock in the morning until eight at night Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturday.

“There will also be a walk-in service that will allow patients to come in at any time during opening hours and see a member of the practice team”.

But, whoever ran the surgery, this would have happened as it was part of the contract! In reality what has happened at St Paul’s Way is just part of the government’s plan to bring marketisation and privatisation into the NHS. There is now concern in Tower Hamlets for the remaining surgeries currently run by the PCT.

Maybe health secretary Alan Johnson will get his wish and Tesco, Asda and Virgin will be given a slice of our health care services – so profit can be made in one of the country’s most deprived boroughs – putting private wealth over public health.

Socialist Party member Pete Dickenson, a patient at the surgery, addressed the crowd, pointing out all the three main political parties are pro-privatisation.

People applauded when Pete said that health campaigners need to stand in election as they have done in other areas of the country – with Socialist Party member Jackie Grunsell having been elected a councillor for the Save Huddersfield NHS Campaign in Kirklees.