CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Boss of firm that took control of GP surgeries is appointed health adviser at No 10

Campaigners warn policies are heading towards a US-style system

02 April, 2021 — By Tom Foot

Boris Johnson has a new health adviser

THE boss of a firm that seized control of four GP practices in Camden is set to quit the company for a new role as prime minister Boris Johnson’s top health adviser.

Samantha Jones is leaving Operose Health Ltd – owned by the US health insurance giant Centene Corporation – which took over the surgeries in February. Overnight, and with no public debate, the company became one of the UK’s largest primary care services providers.

The switch involves the Somers Town Medical Centre, King’s Cross Surgery and Brunswick Medical Centre, all of which were formerly run by private firm AT Medics.

Health campaigner Allyson Pollock told the New Journal that Ms Jones’s appointment showed that the government’s “direction of travel is clear”, adding: “The government is fully committed to the full privatisation of our health services and remodelling services along US lines.”

She added: “Major changes are being pushed through, making it easier for US and other corporations to take control of our health services. This is all being done under the cover of Covid and with no scrutiny by parliament.”

Samantha Jones

Most residents and patients were unaware that a US corporation had taken over their surgeries until the New Journal revealed the transfer on our front page in February. Ms Jones became chief executive of Centene UK, the former name of Operose Health, in 2019 after working in senior roles in the NHS.

Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of the Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “We want our government to be advised as to how to prioritise NHS health care, not how to exploit our health needs to line the pockets of American shareholders.”

A “Get Centene Out” group has been formed and has agreed to hold a protest outside the offices of Operose Health in New Cavendish Street on April 22.

Dr Nick Harding, chief medical officer at Operose Health, said, “Samantha Jones lives and breathes the National Health Service. Beginning as a student paediatric nurse, she has gone on to be an NHS hospital chief executive, lead primary care services and pioneer a national programme to improve NHS services for all patients.

“Her story demonstrates an ability to both bring frontline experience to the corridors of power and her immense personal potential to take on difficult challenges and succeed. As Britain looks to a post-Covid crisis future, there is no one better qualified to help shape health policy.”

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister confirmed Ms Jones’ new role to the New Journal.

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