Private equity pirates seize NHS firm

From the Morning Star:

Private equity snaps up NHS-funded firm

HEALTH-CARE charities and unions warned on Monday that care services are increasingly falling into the hands of profiteers thanks to the government’s insistence on outsourcing health to the private sector.

Private equity firm GI Partners revealed on Monday that it has snapped up Care Aspirations, which is funded by the NHS to provide care for people with severe learning disabilities and conditions such as epilepsy, autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

The NHS sends such patients to the company’s 11 private hospitals and care homes, guaranteeing it a regular income from public funds and making it a prime target for asset-stripping equity firms like the US-financed GI Partners.

Care Aspirations said that, thanks to NHS subsidies, its value had doubled in two years and it was now worth an estimated £70 million.

GI Partners, which is already worth about £2 billion, proudly declared that its intention was to “target such businesses with predictable, recurring cash flows, with a value that could be monetised to return capital to shareholders.”

A spokesman for the Adolescent and Children’s Trust said that “this means it is more interested in maximising profits and operating for short-term gain than providing long term care for the most vulnerable.”

And NHS union UNISON slammed the government’s outsourcing of health services to private companies as “exposing public services to the dangers of global markets.

“More than £80 billion of taxpayer’s money now goes to the private sector and to the private equity firms who increasingly own our public services. The government shouldn’t turn its back on the NHS,” the union said.

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