Kingston Keep Our NHS Public

Fighting cuts, closures and privatisation in our local NHS

Dangerous private health firm is “a clear threat to patient care”

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Private health firm, Harmoni, is under fire yet again – this time over its management of the new 111 service.

Harmoni, which is owned by massive health company Care UK, was awarded the contract for the non-emergency NHS phone line in November 2012 in Surrey and a number of places in London, including Kingston. But some people are waiting up to 20 minutes to talk to someone about their illness – 22% of callers give up due to being put on hold. Their contract is worth £28.7 million.

Harmoni are also being accused of putting lives at risk – because the 111 service is largely being delivered by call-centre staff with no nursing training whatsoever. The Royal College of Nurses has said that “these problems pose a clear threat to patient care.”

This shows the clear logic of NHS privatisation. Private companies are only interested in keeping down costs and reducing the standards of patient care, so they can cream a healthy profit off fat government contracts. And they’re willing to put lives at risk to make as much cash as possible.

Harmoni has been at the receiving end of deep anger from medical professionals before Harmoni over its dangerously understaffed services. It is claimed that on the night of 10 November a staff shortage meant that only one advanced nurse practitioner was designated to assess the seriousness of calls to the GP out-of-hours service for all of Harmoni’s areas across London, including Kingston, covering some 3 million people.

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