Private Healthcare Politicians

Hannah Dewhirst

The links between private healthcare companies and some high-profile MPs, cabinet ministers and prime ministerial advisors are deeply alarming. How can we expect these people to stop NHS privatisation?

The government’s Health and Care Bill, soon set for its third reading in the House of Lords, will accelerate NHS privatisation. And is it any wonder, given the myriad of connections that exist between a number of frontbench MPs and private healthcare companies? We took an ad van around Westminster to highlight these links.

Sajid Javid, our current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has around £45,000 in share options in a California-based company,, which delivers AI software to the health sector. 

According to Javid’s declaration in Parliament’s register of members’ financial interests; “For providing advice on the global economy, geo-politics and market opportunities, I received £151,835 per annum…plus an option for 666.7 common shares per month.” The Health Secretary is said to be in the process of selling these shares, though between his time spent opening new hospitals that aren’t actually new, and his days spent on this role for, we’re not sure when he’ll find the time. 

Stephen Hammond, the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, became a Non-Executive Director of OptiBiotix Health Plc, a biotechnological research company, last year. Having served as a Minister in the Department of Health and Social Care from November 2018 to July 2019, upon his appointment the company commented: “Hammond’s appointment reflects the continued evolution and ambition of the board as the company moves into the next phase of its development to become a profitable international business with global brands” Hammond declared he receives £25,000 per year for this position.

It’s not just elected members of the Prime Minister’s team who have links with for-profit health firms. Samantha Jones, an ex-director of new care models at NHS England and Boris Johnson’s past advisor on NHS reform, recently stepped up her role in Number 10. Before that she was the Chief Executive of Operose, the UK subsidiary of the giant US private healthcare corporation Centene. Following the acquisition of AT Medics that began whilst she was CEO, Operose now holds contracts covering almost 50 primary care sites in London. 

Documents uncovered by Good Law Project in the course of another legal case over the government’s controversial PPE contracts (see here for an update on our own) found links between a private healthcare company and our Home Secretary. Priti Patel MP had personal links with a consultant for the firm Pharmaceuticals Direct Ltd, who were awarded a PPE contract worth £28.8 million in May 2020 - and another worth £102.6 million the following month - both awarded without competition. Patel declared “Nil” in the Register of Interests. 

Iain Duncan Smith MP, a former leader of the Conservative Party, earns £20,000 a year as a member of the International Advisory Board for Tunstall Health Group. This digital healthcare company has been awarded local government contracts worth hundreds of thousands. He also earns an additional £25,000 a year from Byotrol Technology Ltd which provides the NHS with hand sanitiser. 

Serco, which reported revenues of around £4.4 billion last year, paid four pence shy of £19,000 for the constituency office space of the MP for North East Hampshire, Ranil Jayawardena. Serco was also one of the two private companies behind the inaccurately named NHS Test and Trace system which wasted £37 billion - also known as 20% of the NHS’ entire annual budget. 

Steve Brine, Conservative MP for Winchester, who served as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health from June 2017 to March 2019, receives £1,666 a month from the pharmaceutical wholesaler Sigma as a “strategic adviser”. Sigma won a contract to deliver lateral flow tests to pharmacies worth £100,000 in April 2021 without competition. 

With politicians like these, does our public health service really need enemies?

There are sadly even more examples but the picture is already clear. With so many MPs personally profiting from their links with private healthcare companies, our NHS is in danger. 

We’re building a movement to halt + reverse NHS privatisation. Behind the scenes we’re building an interactive digital map and we’ll be reaching out to every single member of the House of Lords and MPs when the Bill heads back to the Commons. If you haven’t already, join EveryDoctor as a Doctor Member, a Supporter, or make a one-off donation today, so we can keep up this fight together. 

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