The company that runs Australia's refugee prisons has set its sights on an NHS hospital. Serco Health, along with another company, Circle Health, have bid for a contract to run Hinchingbrooke, a hospital in Cambridgeshire. If the deal goes through, this would be the first ever NHS hospital to be put into the hands of a private company, according to Social Affairs Correspondent, Victoria Macdonald.
Serco has recently been in the news because the refugees being held in their prisons have a habit of committing suicide and sewing their lips together in order to protest their inhumane living conditions.
The Hinchingbrooke contract would be yet another public-turned-private feather in Serco's cap. The company has long been at the forefront of privatized infrastructure, including numerous facets of London transport, the Great Southern Railways in Australia and the Dubai Metro, air traffic control services to international airports in Bahrain, Dubai and smaller airports in the United States, and since 2004, Serco has had a $7.9 million annual contract from the US government to manage airports in Iraq.
Unions at Hinchingbrooke insist that not all aspects of the hospital will be privatized. For example, "no land or assets can be sold without the specific approval of the trust, and the franchise holder will have a seven to 10 year contract and the care for patients will remain free," according to Channel 4.
But the franchisee will remain responsible for reducing the deficit, while "maintaining the same quality of care the hospital is currently expected to deliver." No word on how the NHS intends to enforce that, or if the ambiguous phrasing "same quality of care" can actually be measured in an accurate way.
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