Protestors decry 'privatisation' of NHS outside Loxford Practice

Protestors gathered outside Loxford Practice on Friday to protest NHS privatisation

Protestors gathered outside Loxford Practice - Credit: Sam Tarry MP

Protesters held a demonstration outside Loxford Practice in opposition to the “privatisation by stealth” of the NHS.

Around 50 people gathered for the protest on July 30, organised by Ilford South MP Sam Tarry, outside the Ilford Lane GP surgery, which was recently taken over by an American health insurance giant.

Operose Health, the UK subsidiary of Centene,  became owners of a number of London GPs, including Loxford Practice, when it took over UK company AT Medics in February.

Mr Tarry told the Recorder that the number of protesters in attendance indicated people's concerns about what he claimed is "the ongoing privatisation of our NHS". 

“I feel it is my responsibility as the parliamentary representative for Ilford South to call out the handing over of the likes of the Loxford Practice to faceless, multinational corporations such as Centene and ensure everyone knows what’s really going on so we keep our beloved NHS in public hands.

"It’s privatisation by stealth."

According to campaign group WeOwnIt, Centene now runs 70 GP surgeries and practices across the UK – nearly one per cent of the total practices in the country.

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The NHS insists that a robust process was followed to confirm that the transfer of ownership would not affect patients, including assurances regarding patient data protection.

The decision was made by the relevant primary care commissioning committees in December 2020 and January 2021.

Will Huxter, director of primary care and public health commissioning for the NHS in London, said: “The ownership of the holding company of AT Medics Ltd has been transferred after consent was given by the relevant commissioners. 

“Patient care remains unaffected by this change and patient data is protected.”

Mr Tarry and Dr Sonia Adesara, a member of the central council of the Socialist Health Association, both addressed the protest, which included Labour Party members as well as representatives from unions.

An Operose Health spokesperson said: "All our staff working at the Loxford Practice are dedicated to supporting the local community in Ilford by providing the best possible NHS care.  

"We are proud of the GP and community services we offer, and will continue to strengthen them for our local patients".