Sharp words on the GP sell-off insider
Thursday, 11th March 2021 — By John Gulliver
Tim de Winter
MY exposure last week that Tim de Winter, who is a leading figure in the Department of Health, may also be a director of a US private company that has taken over GP surgeries in Camden and Islington, has prompted an inquisitorial missive from Peter Roderick, a lawyer and associate of the eminent public health professor Allyson Pollock.
He has fired off a letter to the top civil servant Sir Chris Wormald KCB, permanent secretary of the health department, pointing out that he is “shocked” to discover that Mr de Winter appears to be at the same time a deputy director of the department’s Covid test and trace system as well as a director and employee of the US company known as Centene – according to LinkedIn.
“It might be that the information is not correct,” writes Mr Roderick. “If that is the case you will no doubt tell me. If it is correct it is ‘merely’ another example of the revolving door phenomenon.” He says that the associate company Operose Health Ltd, “know how to play that game”, as they have also appointed two senior NHS figures to their board – Samantha Jones and Nick Harding.
Challenging Sir Chris Wormald, Mr Roderick – who first alerted the New Journal to the Centene takeover of GP surgeries three weeks ago – then set outs 10 questions which he argues are “based on the recruitment principles” of the Civil Service.
He wants to know was the position of Deputy Director advertised and if so where and when; how many people applied, how many were interviewed; who chaired the panel and who sat on it; did panel members declare any conflict of interest; did the panel chairperson comment on the strength and diversity of candidates; was a minister consulted or Dido Harding on the terms of the advert and the membership of the selection panel and were they kept in touch with the progress of the selection procedure and express any views.
Mr Roderick also asks if Mr de Winter was the first and only candidate to be recommended for the position.
He also wanted to know what “consideration” was given to Mr de Winter being employed in the health department as well as a private health company – and the likelihood of his meeting “Civil Service” values and any conflict of interest.
Probing further, in conclusion, Mr Roderick asks what expertise and experience does Mr de Winter have in “communicable” diseases.
Mr Roderick’s missive is one of the most sharply edged questionnaires I have come across but it needs to be because it is throwing a spotlight on either slipshod job-manoeuvring or possible low level political-style corruption.