As the Probation Service braces itself for privatisation of chunks of its work, an indication of the sort of issues that will inevitably arise is provided by this story involving Serco in Cornwall. They have a contract to provide out-of-hours GP services and as a result of allegations, including the manipulation of performance data, they received an unannounced inspection from the Care Quality Commission last month.
There are many worrying aspects to a story like this, involving as it does peoples health and well-being. When these same service companies start getting involved in probation contracts it will involve public safety. Now naturally the company and the commissioning PCT are in essence denying that there is any substantial basis to any of the 'whistle-blowing' allegations. But can anyone tell me how a private firm can make a profit from a contract that costs less than one previously undertaken by a not-for-profit organisation and provide the same level of service?
It doesn't make sense does it and so stories like this are going to become ever more commonplace. Now I know that officially the answer is that the service company is just more efficient, but we all know that's cobblers. Just look at what the new bank regulator said this week. The banks will all have to be forced by legislation to stop offering free banking because they can't be trusted not to screw us! I rest my case.