Virgin provides an awful internet service in Leeds: the connection being lost is a regular occurrence (it’s happened twice since I turned on my computer to write this), the router breaks if you look at it hard enough, the customer service is near impossible to get hold of at times and not great when you reach them.
Michael Johnson, Leeds North West Socialist Party
So what does this have to do with health care? Well, Virgin have set up Assura Care in Leeds, this is a ‘partnership’ between Virgin Care and 27 GPs surgeries across the city. It describes itself as providing “NHS services by combining the clinical skills and expertise of local GPs with the business and service expertise of Virgin Care.” Apparently it delivers “significant savings for commissioners and streamlined care for the patient.”
My GP surgery is one of those in the “partnership,” so I’ve witnessed some of this streamlined and money saving care: I recently had food poisoning, it took several hours to speak to someone who wouldn’t arrange for anyone come out to see me and they have me incorrect advice on dealing with the food poisoning. So, I guess they offer streamlined care by sending everyone to A&E instead!
And savings? I’d rather have good health care than cheap, we’ve seen what happened when private companies took over only the cleaning in hospitals and promised savings: fewer cleaners and more infections. I don’t think anyone wants to see this type of savings repeated in GPs surgeries.
Virgin is a company that exists to make a profit and is privatising the NHS to do so. Assura Care goes to pains to mention at all NHS services will be free at delivery but I do have some guesses about where their going to make their profits: administration charges? Parking fees? Virgin own gyms, maybe we’ll get streamlined right into membership?
The government’s health care bill has left the NHS wide open for companies like Virgin to take charge but an NHS founder said it ‘will survive as long as people are willing to fight for it.’ We need a fight back in Leeds and nationally to show these companies and the government that despite what they think the NHS is NOT for sale.
After all, Virgin couldn’t run a shop properly and they can’t run a media company properly: who on earth wants them to try their hand at the NHS?
For a list of the 27 surgeries see – http://www.virgincare.co.uk/our-reach/assura-leeds-llp/