Martin Horwood responds on Circle Health

Martin recently responded to our article on one of the investors behind Circle Health who has given political donations to two Gloucestershire Tory Mps. Martin asked us to point to where he said that “Circle Healthcare was 100% employee owned”. We actually criticised Martin for describing Circle Health Partnership as 100% employee-owned, without providing the essential context that the staff own the minority share of Circle Health Ltd. Here is the paragraph from Martin`s very own website where one looks in vain for any mention of the fact that a large part of the company is owned by hedge funds registered in the Cayman Islands and Circle Partnership itself is registered in the British Virgin Islands:

The all-party group’s report on mutual and employee ownership in public services, Sharing Ownership, was published this summer [attached]. Steve Mellon of the successful Circle healthcare partnership – 100% owned by its staff – told the group: “Employee engagement, which has been talked about a lot, is much harder to sustain if all that employees are given is a “sense of ownership” – it needs to be more than just rhetoric. Actual ownership is powerfully symbolic and emblematic and conveys deep integrity… Employee ownership ensures that engagement is reinforced by the accountability of managers to owners.”

Fortunately a rigorous analysis has been done by the dedicated researchers at Corporate Watch who have revealed the complicated structure of Circle.


In light of this we are keen to know whether Martin thinks Circle Health would be a fit organisation to run Cheltenham General Hospital?

As well as helping to promote Circle Health, Martin has claimed that no cuts are being made to the NHS budget, the reality is that NHS Gloucestershire`s Chief executive Jan Stubbings publicly admitted in May 2011 that the NHS budget will be cut by £15-20bn nationally and that this will translate to cuts of £150-200m in Gloucestershire.

We call upon Martin to acknowledge this huge threat to the health of people in the UK, from a government which has no mandate to make top down “reforms” of the NHS. We have previously asked Martin to sign the pledge to keep Gloucestershire’s NHS public, he has not yet done so.

There is of course, no need for any cuts. We have previously mentioned Martin`s great reluctance to talk about the huge amount of tax evaded, avoided and uncollected in the United Kingdom, which tax expert Richard Murphy has quantified as totaling £120 billion a year.



  1. Well played, Hanna 🙂

    Mind, Martin Horwood didn’t write that specific line, though further down the page, he seems to imply it, re ‘Circle’. Slap on the wrist for whoever did write the release?

  2. Dear trollhunterx,
    The words “Circle healthcare partnership – 100% owned by its staff” do not appear inside the quotation marks attributed to Steve Mellon of Circle Health on Martin`s website. We may therefore assume they are Martin`s words. Martin has previous form on this website, have a look at his attempt to defend the coalition last June,
    where he makes a whole series of misleading points on cuts, tax, unemployment, the Green Investment Bank etc., all of which we comprehensively demolished (he chose not to continue that particular discussion). To make one such point could be seen as carelessness, to make many such points should be seen for what it is – careerism!

  3. Hello friends.

    You’re right and I will correct the reference on my website. Although you also mistake one bit of Circle for another – Circle Health isn’t the body referred to in the APG report and I can unequivocally say I wouldn’t want it running Cheltenham General. Circle Partnership, which your diagram shows is 49.9% owned by CH, is majority owned (not 100% owned) by its healthcare employees. That’s not as good as 100% but a lot better than 99% of British companies and so still to be welcomed.

    While we’re at it, you also misleadingly imply that I’m not telling the truth about the NHS budget still going up. I’m sorry but it clearly is doing so – from £101bn last year to £104bn this year and then up again to £107bn in 2013/14 and £110bn in 2014/15. Jan Stubbings didn’t have to ‘admit’ anything – she was referring to well-publicised savings which have to be made in the NHS because costs are rising even faster for a variety of reasons, including the introduction of novel drugs, ageing population and so on. It was the main reason I eventually did vote against Andrew Lansley’s health bill – not because there was ever any real risk of privatisation (after all GPs and local healthcare charities like the Cobalt screening unit and Sue Ryder and Cotswold hospices are already private suppliers within what remains a free NHS service) but because the bill forced on the NHS a huge and quite unnecessary top-down reorganisation at a time when managers should have been focussed on squaring that financial circle in a way that protected frontline healthcare.

  4. Andrew Robertson · · Reply

    Just to add that Baron Higgins of Worthing: Conservative – Holds in excess of £50,000 of shares in Lansdowne UK Equity Fund, backers of private hospital group Circle Holdings. Voted loyally on the Health and Social Care bill amendments.

  5. I wish I could say this sort of revelation comes as a shock and a surprise, but unfortunately I long ago reached the point where politicians only shake me to the core when found to be speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And then voting for it.

    I fully support the campaign to publicly rub Con and LibDem MPs’ noses in it as regards the mendacity and coverups over the NHS bill/Act and I have a soft spot for Gloucester, even if my parents no longer live in the area.

  6. We can probably agree with our friend Martin that the health reform bill has been mismanaged. In my own ward, the person who is supposed to be keeping us abreast of developments, Bren McInerney, has failed abysmally to do so, not surprisingly, considering he has also been instrumental in destroying the Barton & Tredworth Community Trust. Ironically, when our neighbourhood partnership started up in 2009, the representative for the PCT was supposed to be Dr Shona Arora, but somehow we got stuck with Bren, who seems to think that his only role is promoting health initiatives to BME communities. If they aren’t as well-informed about such things, fair enough, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t want to know what’s happening, and wouldn’t be happy to spread the word, to *everyone*…

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