It’s only 50 thousand pounds

Those times when news stories read like stories from The Onion…

Like the BBC’s report of the MP who said “sorry” for not mentioning a financial interest while arguing for something that would do that financial interest a lot of good.

Conservative MP and ministerial aide Mark Simmonds has apologised for failing to make clear an interest when speaking in favour of the NHS shake-up…

The MPs’ register of interest shows he is paid £50,000 a year as a strategic adviser to Circle Healthcare.

Mr Simmonds told MPs he wanted to apologise for “inadvertently” failing to declare his interest.

He made his statement during a Point of Order. Although he had correctly declared his interest in the register of interests, he did not mention it – as MPs should – when speaking in the debates on the Health and Social Care Bill in January and March last year.

Oh, oops.

Ben Goldacre had a good time with that on Twitter.

“MP apologises for health firm interests” HEY DUDE! It’s easy to forget £50k…


really, i don’t think that guy should beat himself up about forgetting FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS. could happen to any one of us. move on. srsly.

it’s just, you know, fifty thousand pounds for advising the first private company to run an NHS hospital. that’s all. no biggy.

look, srsrly: it’s only a thousand pounds a week, twice the average wage, for “Advice”. just.. stop going on about it.

Quite right. Let’s have a little trust in the integrity of our elected officials, shall we?


  1. James says

    Point of order on the BBC article…

    Circle, which is co-owned by its employees, was in the news recently when it became the first private firm to run an NHS hospital, Hitchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridgeshire.

    Indeed it was in the news recently wasn’t it. And at that time, wasn’t there some coverage of it’s claims to be a social enterprise which was “co-owned by its employees”? Because that makes it sound like a cuddly, lefty cooperative type organisation right? OK, it’s not the NHS per se, but at least it’s not one of those profit motivated private companies ehich might be owned and run by hedge funds or private equity, right?

    Err, no.

    So what exactly is Circle Health? In truth, it is a subsidiary ultimately controlled by Circle Holdings, which in turn became a publicly listed company following its flotation on Aim on 17 June. Almost 95% of those shares have remained in the hands of six investors, including the above-mentioned funds. Behind all the spin, the simple fact is that Circle Health remains a loss-making, growing, private business run by a chief executive, Ali Parsa, who has a fiduciary duty to maximise returns for his shareholders.

    Circle Health’s majority shareholder is Circle Holdings, where former Goldman banker Parsa personally holds about 5% of shares and is again chief executive. In terms of who pulls the strings, it is Parsa and his hedge fund pals: end of story.

    But what, then, about the much-mentioned 30m shares Parsa has handed out to more than 2,500 staff, including doctors, nurses, hospital managers, porters and cleaners? These are, in fact, shares in an entity registered in the Virgin Islands called Circle Partnership. This offshore firm has a minority investment of 49.9% in Circle Health, making it a joint venture minority partner to Circle Holdings.

    Both Partnership (ie the staff) and Holdings (ie the hedge funds) have an equal number of seats on the board of Circle Health, but the small print makes it clear, on almost all issues, that it is Holdings that makes the decisions.

    So anonymous BBC reporter, “co-owned by it’s employees” might be true (strictly speaking and in a roundabout way), but it’s not exactly fully honest is it?

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