Sunday, 16 December 2007

Enough to make you sick

Patricia Hewitt was, by a country mile, the worst Secretary of State for health that we've ever had (and we have had a few disasters...anyone remember Alan Milburn).

So now I read this in today's Sunday Times: it's enough to make you reach for the sick bowl -

PATRICIA HEWITT, the former health secretary who left the government six months ago, has been offered jobs with at least five companies with links to the health sector.

The disclosure has led to renewed calls for more stringent rules to stop politicians from cashing in too quickly on their time in office.

Hewitt, who resigned in June, has been inundated with consultancy jobs since leaving the Department of Health. She is set to be the latest in a series of health ministers and senior officials to move into the private sector.

Lord Warner and Alan Milburn, both former health ministers, have also benefited, moving to healthcare jobs soon after leaving office. Liz Kendall, Hewitt’s former special adviser, is now a healthcare consultant to a number of organisations, including private sector companies.

Hewitt, who was health secretary from May 2005 but stood down when Gordon Brown took over as prime minister, is expected to take up her roles in the new year.

Warner’s jobs, revealed this month, include advisory roles for Xansa, a technology company in Reading, Berkshire, that has a partnership with the Department of Health to provide finance services to National Health Service bodies, and Byotrol, an antimicrobial company that sells products to the NHS.

Warner also has an advisory role with DLA Piper, which advised ministers on the NHS’s £12 billion IT programme. Warner was responsible for this while a health minister.

The move into consultancy will raise fresh questions about whether companies are gaining a strategic advantage by hiring ministers with recent experience of the highest levels of government.

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