Monday, May 29, 2006

Poisoning the patients or the visitors?

Burger King in a hospital? It must be a joke? Alas this is Blair's NHS, full of that thing so beloved of the Great Leader, "entrpreneurial activity".

Amongst other things, the commercialisation of the NHS by the Blair government has stepped up pressure on NHS Trusts to maximise their rent income. According to a report in the Observer, dozens of Trusts faced with financial deficits are bringing in burger bars and cafes run by high street chains, to earn higher rents.

Burger King already has four outlets in hospitals across England, including Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, which treats thousands of heart patients each year. Research has not yet been carried out to confirm what percentage of heart patients are treated as a result of Burger King’s culinary efforts. However, its presence in hospitals undoubtedly will assist in producing more patients. This is obviously a good thing given Blair’s ‘reform’ which has meant that Trusts have to compete with each other for patients. Yes, Trusts even advertise these days for sick people.

At Bedford Hospital, the WRVS has recently been told it will lose its shop, in order to maximise its rental income. The WRVS has lost other outlets this year. Voluntary organisations don't pay enough.

Addenbrookes Hospital has in its main concourse a Burger King, a Café Ritazza and an Upper Crust, all of them run on a franchise basis by Medirest (great name), which is part of the Compass food services group. Medirest, which also runs catering, cleaning and portering services across the NHS, says it wants to bring more vending machines into hospitals; the more unhealthy the contents the greater the influx of future patients no doubt.

This is only the latest in a long line of vultures gathering to earn money out of people falling sick. In the Great Western Hospital in Swindon we already know of the charging of sick people to watch TV and the high cost of people using the phone service.

I eagerly await a letter from Peter Brown* explain the benefits of putting the likes of Burger King into hospitals.

(Pete Brown is a long time Labour activist renowned for his letters to the local paper explaining what a phenomenal job the government is doing. His letters are usually heavily laden with statistics from Labour HQ.)


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