Since July last year an NHS Integrated Care Board has been established across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester but not BANES. Because why use the existing West of England administrative area when you can make up another new area instead?
This latest NHS reform, according to their PR, will “bring the NHS together locally to improve population health and establish shared strategic priorities within the NHS”.
Six people, with no explanation of how or why they were appointed or what they’re being paid by us, are serving as non-executive directors on this board to “act in the best interests of patients and the public”.
Those secretly selected to act in our best interests include a Merchant Venturer, UWE boss and overpromoted chiropodist Steve West; Business West bigwig Jaya “Cha-cha-cha” Chakrabarti and a random woman from Wales, Ellen Donovan, who explains she has a “good track record as a Senior Executive in product development”. Neglecting to explain that a lot of that experience was at Debenhams, which went into, er, liquidation for the second and last time in 2020.
Little surprise, then, that this board stuffed with private sector cheerleaders has selected a private sector solution funded by international venture capital for their first initiative to support our local NHS.
Welcome to ‘NHS@Home’, a so-say ‘hospital at home’ scheme where the elderly are discharged from hospital to free up bed space and left to fend for themselves with the aid of a magic box of tech courtesy of leading ‘virtual ward providers’, private firm Doccla.
Far from working in the best interests of patients and the public, however, Doccla are working for profit and to pay back the large capital investment they’ve received from venture capital and private equity firms. What could possibly go wrong?
Conveniently, our Integrated Care Board has deemed trials of their tech solution a success and are now throwing millions at it across the region they’ve invented.
Shame, then, that word on the ground from NHS workers implementing the tech is that it was far from a success. They say that the elderly, unsurprisingly, struggled to understand how to work the Doccla box of tricks and require a huge level of in-person support that simply isn’t there.
In the brave new world of private equity involvement in the NHS, do we just have to cross our fingers and hope no one dies as public money turns to private profit?