Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will join health campaigners to protest a US private takeover of GP services in south east London.

US health insurance giant Centene Corporation merged with AT Medics earlier this year, which runs 37 GP practices across London in places such as Thamesmead, Woolwich, and Peckham.

Unite the union will stage a socially distanced protest outside the Tower Hamlet offices of the US corporation’s subsidiary, Operose, in opposition to “the accelerating privatisation of the NHS by stealth" this Thursday. 

News Shopper:

Doctors in Unite chair Jackie Applebee said: “Ministers and senior NHS executives have repeatedly mouthed the mantra that the NHS is not being privatised.

“But now we have the case of a huge swathe of English general practice, including the data of nearly half a million patients, being handed over to US health insurance giant Centene – with a breath-taking lack of transparency and openness.

“Tory politicians and their outriders in the media roll out the tired old trope that all general practices are private, but this is disingenuous, and they know it.

“There is a world of difference between a multinational corporation that operates to make a profit, often by cutting staff and services, so that it can pay dividends to shareholders, and local GPs who are very much part of the NHS ‘family’ and provide services from a budget fixed by the Treasury.

“The public needs to wake-up to the fact the NHS that they so value and which has been the lynchpin of the successful vaccination programme is being steadily sold off to profit-hungry healthcare companies – in this case one whose headquarters is in America.”

Unite is calling for an inquiry into the accelerating pace of health service privatisation, particularly in light of recent lobbying scandals faced by government.

Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn will attend the event on New Cavendish Street at 3pm, along with Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse.

The takeover makes Operose the largest provider of primary care in England, serving 500,000 patients.

Operose now runs Thamesmead Health Centre, E16 Health in North Woolwich and three practices in Peckham.

NHS commissioners across 13 London Clinical Commissioning Group granted approval for the change in ownership.

A spokesperson for Operose told the Britis Medical Journal: “At the beginning of February, AT Medics and Operose Health created a new partnership which is committed to achieving high quality clinical outcomes and standards of care for our patients and communities.

“Day to day operations of our GP surgeries, the care that we deliver to our patients and the services accessed through our surgeries will not change.

"Patients will continue to consult with us in the same way that they do today.

“The practice teams will be the same and all the AT Medics leadership team are staying with the organisation as part of our new partnership.

“Covering approximately 530 000 patients, existing AT Medics and Operose Health patients at our 58 practices will continue to receive the same excellent standards of care, while benefitting from further digital access and staff training.

"We have followed all the required regulatory procedures, including obtaining consent from our CCGs.”