Simon Stevens is the CEO of NHS England.
In 1997 he joined the UK Department of Health as an adviser to secretary of state for health Alan Milburn and Frank Dobson. During his time as secretary of state, Milburn is known for his privatisation reforms and his three aides (including Stevens) have all gone on to work for companies benefitting from the privatisation of the health service. In 2001 he was the health adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. The Financial Times describes Stevens as 'a key architect, along with Mr Milburn and Mr Blair – to whom he went on to serve as health adviser – of the reforms that for the first time broke up the NHS monolith, introducing privately run treatment centres'. He is seen as the author of the NHS Plan in 2000 which set the course towards increased privatisation and market-style reforms.
After leaving government, Stevens joined US healthcare giant UnitedHealth - who he had been in contact with for the previous two years, during which time they landed their first NHS contract. At first Stevens was put on selling UH services to European health systems, he was then appointed vice president and lobbyist for the whole UH Group. Stevens saw subsequently appointed president of its global health division and led health services in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, China, Africa and the Middle East. As president he was reportedly pocketing a £150,000 salary.
On Steven's time at UH, John Lister says:
- 'Not surprisingly UH did not even bothered trying to replicate its role in private health insurance, which is a mainstay of its highly profitable US parent company – whose annual turnover is almost £16 billion. The existence of the NHS with its universal health cover has left private medical insurance as a relatively marginal activity in the UK, covering just 12 per cent of the population.
- 'Instead, like a shark scenting fresh blood, UHE, steered by Stevens and by its chief executive, former British Medical Journal editor, Richard Smith, has zeroed in on much bigger prey – the juicy prospect of controlling hundreds of millions of pounds in the commissioning budgets of primary care trusts. The possibility of opening up this vast source of income for companies such as UHE was created by New Labour’s determined efforts to establish market-style competition in the health service – as proposed by Simon Stevens.'
Stevens returned to the UK in 2014 as CEO of the NHS, and is the man currently running the show.
Between 1997 and 2000 Stevens was one of the then secretary of state for health Alan Milburn's aides, with Andrew Harrison and Tony Sampson. 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. 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'.
- Tamasin Cave, The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015.
- NHS England Who's who, accessed 10 April 2015.
- Tamasin Cave The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015, accessed 10 April 2015.
- John Lister Simon Stevens: undertaker for the NHS' Red Pepper, February 2006, accessed 10 April 2015.
- Health Service Journal Top 100, accessed 10 April 2015.
- Caroline Molloy Leak reveals worrying truth behind the biggest NHS privatisation yet Open Democracy, 16 March 2015, accessed 10 April 2015.