Despite their  lacklustre attendance and poor voting records, peers with financial interests in the health industry are turning up in record numbers to help the Tories push through their fiercely contested Health and Social Care Bill. Known within Westminster as “backwoodsmen”, these Conservatives have close links to private healthcare, meaning they stand to benefit financially from reforms set to part-privatise the NHS.

Attendance data from The Public Whip highlights the cabal of healthcare-linked Tories who suddenly remembered they were parliamentarians:

While these regular absentees miraculously turned up for the healthcare debate, they quickly reverted to type — with none of the fiendish cohort sticking around for the Localism Bill debated directly after.

Well, time is money after all.

  1. How about Lords votes being devalued based on attendance? Turn up for 20% of the meetings? Vote counted as 20% of 1. (or 0.2 of a vote). Seems quite fair to me.

  2. A parish councillor could not vote on something that they benefitted from in such a way. How can a Lord have such a privilege? It seems to go against the Macpherson standards for public office.

  3. These characters are Tories after all. Its only expected that they would vote to advance their own financial interests! Their only political principal is naked self-interest

  4. Minneapolis Public Radio published a commentary on 30 September 2011 by [David Durenberger, Former Republican U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn chairs the National Institute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas] in which he noted:

    “A physician I know read a story in Tuesday’s newspaper at about the same time I did, 6 a.m. By 8 we’d found that we were having identical reactions to this absurdity. But he had a better way of expressing it: “It’s like a parasite eating its host. They have bankrupted our culture, so now they want to try and bankrupt China and India,” he said. It’s the story of America’s largest private health insurance companies combining with our largest medical device, drug and diagnostic companies and multispecialty medical corporations to create jobs in America “by exporting the wonders of American medicine to the developing world.” ”

    United Health – whose president of global health is Simon Stevens, a former key adviser to Tony Blair on the NHS – has already won contracts to run GP services in Derby and Leicester and one of the new pathfinder consortia covering 57 GP practices in west London has signed a contract with United Health to handle all referrals including consultant to consultant referrals, from February 2011.

    From the Star Tribune on 26 September:

    “A coalition of U.S. health care businesses, including Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group and Medtronic, proposes to rebuild America’s battered economy by selling the country’s “health ecosystem” internationally.

    “The Alliance for Healthcare Competitiveness (AHC) wants the U.S. government to build its foreign free-trade policy around the health care industry, noting that the sector has been a significant jobs creator since the recession began in 2008. Breaking down tariffs and other forms of international discrimination against America’s “health ecosystem” will allow developing countries such as China, India and Brazil to improve medical care while allowing U.S. companies to rescue the American economy by hiring more people, AHC leaders said…

    “The worldwide need for health care in aging populations will lead to a demand for goods and services that can drive sales of American insurance, medical devices and record-keeping technology, said Simon Stevens, UnitedHealth’s president of global health and an AHC member. Further, a growing middle class in developing countries will have the money to pay for better treatment, which U.S. companies can provide.

    “This is about making it easier for patients around the world to benefit from things that have demonstrably worked,” said Stevens, who once served as health minister to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.”

    The article then admits:

    ” …the U.S. health care system …is beset with skyrocketing costs and inefficiencies. Americans currently pay more for health care and rank lower in life expectancy and infant mortality than much of the developed world

    “…The call to rebuild the U.S. economy by selling pieces of what is generally considered a broken health care system struck some experts as a bit awkward.”

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