A contract to treat NHS patients with brain tumours has been awarded to a controversial American healthcare firm that is a donor to the Tory party.
The multi-million pound deal with Hospital Corporation of America was pushed through quietly just days before the Government handed responsibility for cancer care to NHS England.
A Mirror investigation has discovered that HCA has given the Tories at least £17,000 since they came to power.
Opposition MPs last night described the decision as “scandalous”.
Labour MPs are particularly angry because London’s University College Hospital – one of the best NHS brain treatment centres in the country – has been told to stop treating brain cancer patients and send them to HCA.
Labour MP Grahame Morris, a member of the influential Health Select Committee, said: “How the hell can the Tories award such a lucrative contract to a company that gives them thousands of pounds in donations? It’s shocking, it’s scandalous and it’s plain wrong.
“And worse than the financial scandal – people may end up dying unnecessarily because of the decision.”
HCA is already at the centre of a massive row after being accused of overcharging the NHS by millions of pounds in a damning report released last week.
It owns the Gamma Knife Centre at Barts hospital, which has been given the new contract alongside Bupa’s private Cromwell hospital.
HCA has a chequered history in the US and has been fined more than $1billion for mis-selling healthcare.
Mr Morris said: “Given this company’s record in America why are they being given lucrative contracts by our NHS?
“I want to know which Ministers were involved in awarding this contract and who authorised it.
“The Tory-led Coalition has a lot of questions to answer about this and I will be making sure they are held to account.”
Mr Morris, who recently met with senior consultants at UCHL added: “This is a shocking situation and shows the Tories are more concerned about looking after their donors than looking after cancer patients.
“The Gamma Knife at UCHL has the very latest technology in the country used by the very best doctors.
“They were treating NHS patients right up until the day this new bureaucracy took over our healthcare.”
A senior hospital source told the Mirror: “The radiotherapy community is very concerned about the way NHS England is handing out contracts for NHS patients.
There appears to be no clinical logic to the decisions they are making.
“Asking patients with brain tumours to switch hospitals and doctors when they are reaching a critical stage in their cancer is nothing short of madness.”
In a document seen by the Mirror NHS England confirmed that – as of April 1 – the nation’s top NHS brain cancer hospital, UCHL, has been stopped from treating NHS tumour victims.
Patients who were being treated there have been told to move to Barts. NHS England have told UCHL that they won’t pay for any more NHS patients to be treated there because they’ve signed a contract with two private hospitals – one of which is HCA.
HCA, along with two other private hospital groups, was at the centre of a scathing report from the Competition Commission last week which showed that between 2009 and 2011 they overcharged by up to £193million.
Despite the damning criticism, HCA commercial director Keith Biddlestone insisted: “We’ve seen no data from the commission that supports the conclusion that HCA’s prices are higher than they should be.”
Last night a HCA spokesman declined to comment on their donations to the Tories and contracts with the NHS.