John Penrose MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Cc Weston Mercury
I am very concerned that Weston Hospital is at risk of being lost to the NHS and franchised out, in whole or in part, to a private corporation, or to a social enterprise who may later either choose or be forced to, pass it on to a private corporation.
Weston’s present financial troubles are, as you know, due to decades of under funding. In the 1990s the Local Commissioning Group of GPs established, with the help of an official accountant, that North Somerset was underfunded to the tune of £3 million per annum. It is no wonder therefore that that WAHT has a debt of £5million, and it is important that the Department for Health understands the historic underfunding of our area.
This is an extremely complex matter, but in the end it makes no logical sense to try to solve a funding problem by passing it to a corporation who will inevitably draw off funds to pay shareholder dividends and bonuses for directors.
I am well aware that the Health Minister will dismiss the idea that Weston Hospital is being privatised, and will stress that it is only being “put out to franchise”. We must not be naïve. Many Cabinet members have financial stakes in the health industry - you will be able to tell me the exact number – and the effect of all of the 13 recent NHS “reorganisations” have been favourable to the process of privatisation. Placing Weston in the hands of a private corporation is privatisation, no matter what term may be applied to the process.
You have made Weston’s health services a top priority in your political platform. I hope therefore that you will be campaigning strongly and publicly to keep Weston Hospital firmly within the NHS, and look forward to your reassurance on this point.