Alan Milburn

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Alan Milburn speaks in a panel session on health and politics past, present and future for the NHS Confederation.
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Alan Milburn (born 27 January 1958) is a British Labour politician who was the MP for Darlington from April 1992 until he stepped down in May 2010.

Since stepping down he has held roles with PricewaterhouseCoopers, amongst other big businesses.



Milburn was elected as an MP for Darlington in 1992 with 48.1 percent of the vote, in 1997 he received a high of 61.6 percent, in 2001 he won 55.2 percent and in 2005 52.4 percent.[1]

Whilst in parliament, Milburn was the minister of state at the Department of Health from May 1997 to December 1998, late becoming secretary of state in the same department from October 1999 to June 2003. In between his two stints in the Department of Health, he was chief secretary of HM Treasury. He was also chairman of the Draft Charities Bill and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[2]

He was known as a firm Blairite and was even mentioned as a successor to Blair when he stepped down as leader of the Labour Party.[3]

Despite stepping down as an MP in 2010 and a Tory-Lib Dem coalition controlling government, Milburn was offered a role as an adviser to David Cameron in a role dubbed the "social mobility tsar", where he was tasked with examining ways of boosting the chances of underprivileged children. The decision to hire Milburn in this facility did not go down well with senior Tory members.[4][5]

Anti-obesity initiatives

In December 2003, six months after leaving the post of Health Secretary, Milburn made a speech at Magdalen college Oxford at the Oxford Vision 2020 Conference in which he stated," Specifically an ultimatum needs to be placed before the (food) industry that unless it voluntarily cuts fat, sugar and salt in food within a specified time frame then tough regulatory action will be taken to ensure that it does so. The summit could also discuss how to make greater choice over healthier food available in local communities and local schools.In the meantime I hope Ministers will take swift action to remove fast food, soft drink and confectionery machines from all schools." [6]

In May 2007 Milburn became an advisor to Pepsico one of the organisations involved in Business4Life the business consortium behind the Department of Health's Change4Life anti-obesity initiative. [7] Pepsico and its subsidiary Walkers Crisps are clients of Freud Communications. Freud Communications were hired by the Department of Health to run its anti-obesity campaign.[8]

PFI initiatives

During his time as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Secretary of State for Health, Milburn was instrumental in driving forward the Government's policy of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) in the health service. [9] During his time at the Treasury in 1999 Milburn stated

"The Government's commitment to partnership between the public and private sector has never been greater. The Government's new guidelines will make PFI work more effectively and more fairly. This will help deliver higher levels of investment to modernise Britain's key public services such as the NHS. By providing a platform of certainty, the new guidance will help the PFI continue to grow. Value for money deals go hand in hand with the key test of genuine risk transfer achieved under PFI contracts. This clarity of approach will enable the revised guidance to work in practice." [9]

While in 2007 as Secretary of State for Health Milburn stated

"We plan to ... remove the Secretary of State's powers of direction over NHS Foundation Trusts. Instead of being line managed by the Department of Health, they will be held to account through agreements and cash for performance contracts... The expectation must be that the greater freedoms that NHS Foundation Trusts will enjoy will help them exceed national performance targets but that will be a matter for local not national negotiation. Those that perform well will benefit from the system of payment by results and patient choice that we announced in Delivering the NHS Plan."[10]

Milburn is currently on the advisory board of Bridgepoint Capital. [11] He appears to have joined them in January 2007. Bridgepoint is a venture capital firm heavily involved in financing private health care firms moving into the NHS. Milburn previously worked as an advisor to Bridgepoint between March and September 2004.[12] Bridgepoint's subsidiary won a £16 million NHS contract six months after he joined. [13]

Scanner scandal

In 2005 the Labour Party were accused of trying to gag one of its own MPs who strongly criticised a £90 million deal between the NHS and a private health company linked to Milburn.

Kevan Jones, the MP for North Durham, revealed that patients from his constituency were being sent 20 miles for private MRI scans, even though their own local hospital had a machine standing idle. Jones had spoken out in support of John Saxby, the chief executive of the University Hospital of North Durham, who complained about the purchase of scans from Alliance Medical, while his own NHS scanner was "considerably under-employed".

Alliance Medical was owned by Bridgepoint and the £90 million scanner deal was signed while Milburn was working for Bridgepoint. The contract for the scanner was announced by John Hutton, the then health minister who is a friend of Milburn.

According to press reports Jones' comments provoked a telephone call to the MP from a Labour Party official demanding an explanation and warning him that they should not be repeated. Jones himself refused to confirm the claim. [14]

Joins private hospital management company

In February 2018 Ribera Salud, the Spanish hospital management company which is majority owned by US giant Centene Corporation appointed Milburn to its board.[15]

Joins Big Four firm 'health industry board'

In May 2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) announced that the former Cabinet minister would become Chair of PwC’s new 'Health Industry Oversight Board'. In a PwC press release Alan Milburn said:

I’m delighted to be working with PwC in this new role. The health industry in the UK offers strong opportunities for growth in the wider economy and for PwC. My aim is to bring together a panel of industry experts to help catalyse change across the health sector and to help PwC grow its presence in the health market.
PwC has a great team with strong technical skills and a tremendous breadth of industry knowledge combined with a real desire to help organisations succeed. PwC is well placed to drive innovation in health solutions given its long standing commitment to this market.

The press release noted that as a former Secretary of State of Health, Milburn had "led a radical programme of modernisation". [16]

A M Strategy

In January 2015 it was reported that A M Strategy, a private company set up and co-director by Milburn and his long-term girlfriend Ruth Briel, made more than £500,000 in 2013. Accounts show that overall the company has accumulated more than £1,357,131 in profits.[17]

Milburn and his advisers

The corporate capture of the NHS

During his time as secretary of state for health Milburn's three aides were Tony Sampson, Andrew Harrison and Simon Stevens. In 2004 Stevens moved to America and spent a decade working for UnitedHealth eventually becoming vice president of the UH Group, he then moved back to the UK in 2014 as the CEO of the NHS and is the man currently in charge of the health service. In 2005 Sampson was UnitedHealth's chief lobbyist in the UK and Harrison's current employers, Hanover Communications, have 'lobbied for UnitedHealth since at least 2007'. Since leaving government Milburn has been an adviser to Bridgepoint Capital who have shares in Alliance Medical, Care UK and Tunstall Ansel. [18]

UnitedHealth are currently bidding on a number of NHS privatised contracts.[19]



See: The Corporate Capture of the NHS

Notes and References

  1. Alan Milburn Guardian, accessed 28 January 2015
  2. Alan Milburn They Work For You, accessed 28 January 2015
  3. Nick Assinder Milburn and Clarke: A threat to Brown? BBC News, 28 February 2007, accessed 28 January 2015
  4. Melissa Kite Alan Milburn set for third return to Government as David Cameron adviser Telegraph, 15 August 2010, 28 January 2015
  5. Education Committee - Second Report: Appointment of Chair, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission] Parliament Publications, 10 July 2012, accessed 28 January 2015
  6. Keynote speech by Alan Milburn Oxford Health Alliance, December 2003, Accessed 21 December 2008
  7. Home page Business4Life, Accessed 9 December 2008
  8. Matt Cartmel, Freud Lands Anti-obesity brief, Brand Republic, 31 July 2008, accessed 9 December 2008
  9. 9.0 9.1 HM Treasury More Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals expected June 24 1999, Accessed December 9 2008
  10. Speeches] Department of Health, 7 February 2007, accessed 9 December 2008
  11. 11.0 11.1 Advisory Board Bridgepoint Capital, accessed 9 December 2008
  12. Members listing May 2004 They Work For You, accessed 9 December 2008
  13. Geoffrey Levy, Tony's cronies and snouts in the trough: How one-time Labour bigwigs are raking it in thanks to the private sector Daily Mail, 10th June 2011, accessed 14 June 2011
  14. Patrick Hennessy Labour orders MP to keep quiet over Milburn scan deal Telegraph, 26 March 2005, accessed 9 December 2008
  15. Ribera Salud appoints ex-UK healthcare minister Alan Milburn, Healthcare Business International (paywall), 20 February 2018
  16. Alan Milburn appointed Chairman of PwC’s new Health Industry Oversight Board (HIOB) PricewaterhouseCoopers, 23 May 2013, accessed 28 January 2015
  17. Tim Walker 'Poverty tsar’ Alan Milburn makes a million Telegraph, 24 January 2014, accessed 28 January 2015
  18. Tamasin Cave The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015, accessed 10 April 2015.
  19. Caroline Molloy Leak reveals worrying truth behind the biggest NHS privatisation yet Open Democracy, 16 March 2015, accessed 9 April 2015.
  20. Register of Members interests Parliament Publications, accessed 21 December 2008
  21. Alan Milburn Bloomberg Businessweek, 5 November 2014, accessed 6 November 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments Ninth Report 2006-2008 Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, accessed 6 November 2014
  23. Rebecca Smithers, Beyoncé, Britney ... Milburn? Ex-minister takes Pepsi challenge Guardian, 30 May 2007, accessed 28 November 2008.
  24. Tim Walker, Milburn in the money Telegraph, 30 April 2008, accessed 28 November 2008.
  25. Jon Swaine, MPs could face ban on second jobs Telegraph, 24 July 2008, accessed 28 November 2008.
  26. Jon Swaine, MPs could face ban on second jobs Telegraph, 24 July 2008, accessed 28 November 2008.