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Outsourcing giant Serco is embroiled in another misuse of public funds scandal after a company it set up overcharged NHS hospitals millions of pounds, as revealed by Corporate Watch and the Independent today.
Internal documents leaked to Corporate Watch suggest Britain’s biggest pathology provider, established by Serco in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London, overcharged the hospitals millions of pounds for tests and services.
The venture – first called GSTS and now trading under the name Viapath – has been dogged by allegations of cost-cutting and clinical failings since it started. Internal documents show increasing concern amongst senior consultants who claimed that staff cuts and a lack of investment since privatisation left some laboratories close to disaster.
In internal emails clinicians said the company had an “inherent inability… to understand that you cannot cut corners and put cost saving above quality.” The trust and Viapath say the problems have now been resolved. But this only happened after the intervention of senior medical staff and changes to the structure of the joint venture that reduced Serco’s role.
Click here to read the full article in the Independent.
Read previous Corporate Watch articles on Serco’s pathology venture:
Serco and pathology: the cost of profit
Serco was pleased to announce in July 2013 that Viapath was back in profit. But accounts released that year showed that, even after lab closures and accusations of cutting corners, GSTS was not yet the success story its owners liked to suggest.
Under the microscope: pathology gets the Serco treatment
Viapath was supposed to show what the private sector could bring to healthcare. So staff at King’s College Hospital in Brixton, London were surprised to find out in September 2011 that instead of the “efficiency savings” Serco had promised, the hospital had actually lost money in the first six months of the partnership.