MP Nadhim Zahawi has been named in a dossier highlighting MPs’ links with private health firms and their support for controversial reforms of the NHS.
The Stratford MP is one of 70 coalition MPs singled out in the document compiled by the Unite union with links to companies which it claims stood to benefit from the passing of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
Mr Zahawi is a non-executive director of SThree, which provides staff for Clinical Commissioning Groups created as part of the act and responsible for buying in healthcare services.
The document points out Mr Zahawi received over £3,300 for seven hours work for the firm in July. It also highlights his membership of the All Party Parliamentary Group lobbying for TTIP, an EU and US trade deal which the union claims could make the sell-off of the NHS irreversible. Their fears centre around a clause which would allow firms to take legal action against countries if they act in a way that would jeopardise their future profits. Traditionally it has been used to protect the overseas assets of investors, but it has in recent years been used by corportations to sue governments for loss of profits.
The passing of the Health and Social Care Act has proved controversial with critics claiming it has opened the door to privatisation of the NHS, with campaign group NHS Support Federation claiming 70 per cent of contracts for services such as scans and out of hours care have been awarded to the private sector since 2012.
But Mr Zahawi hit back saying he was appointed to the board of SThree in July 2008 as a result of his business experience with YouGov PLC, well before he became an MP and it did not influence his support for the act.
He added he received a salary for his monthly attendance at board meetings which was fully declared on the register of member’s interests.
He also pointed out one of SThree’s subsidiaries, Real Staffing, had been working with the NHS for more than ten years and provided recruitment services to PCTs under the last Labour government.
Mr Zahawi also branded claims TTIP threatened the NHS as ‘scaremongering’ as EU and US negotiators had confirmed national health systems would not have to be opened up to private companies.
He added: “TTIP is about opening up free trade between the EU and US. Whilst the inclusion of health does not threaten the public nature of the NHS, it will let the UK’s world class pharmaceutical and medical devices companies compete on a level playing field with US companies on US soil.”