Arts & Culture - Anti-Capitalism

2007 - 2022

Feeling UK:OK? They’ve Just Sold Our Blood Supply


The Tory government has just sold off state-owned NHS blood supplier Plasma Resources UK to US private equity company Bain Capital for £230 million. Hang on – Bain, that name rings a bell…

Bain Capital is perhaps best known for having been set up by former US presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 1984, as a spin off from management consultants Bain & Company. It became infamous for taking over companies, saddling them with large amounts of ‘leveraged’ debt and forcing them to make big payments back to Bain. When Romney ran for president last year, horror stories came spilling out about the firm’s practices.

One such story was the fate of American Pad & Paper—known as ‘Ampad’—which Bain bought in 1992, planning to make it ‘leaner’ to extract profits. When the Bain-run firm bought up an Indiana paper plant in 1994, within hours it laid off 250 workers and cut wages and pensions, sparking a bitter strike. As Randy Johnson, a former worker at the plant, remembered last year, ‘They came in and said, “You’re all fired. If you want to work for us, here’s an application.”’

Another former employee, Mike Earnest, said that out of the blue one day the workers there were told to construct a 30 foot stage, not knowing what it was for. ‘Just days later, all three shifts were told to assemble in the warehouse,’ he said. ‘A group of people walked out on that stage, and told us that the plant is now closed, and all of you are fired. Turns out that when we built that stage, it was like building my own coffin.’

Profiting from sackings

Romney and partners squeezed out more than £60 million from the firm, much of it in hefty ‘management fees’. It was unable to keep up interest payments on its debts, started sacking workers and eventually collapsed in 2000. 1,500 jobs were lost in all. In 2007, when he was asked about the layoffs, Romney replied, ‘Sometimes the medicine is a little bitter but it is necessary.’ As he later slipped up and said during the presidential campaign, ‘I like being able to fire people.’

This was a consistent pattern. At GST Steel, Bain made £5 million and 750 jobs were lost. At medical equipment company Dade Behring it was £150 million and almost 3,000 jobs. And at clothing firm Stage Stores they pocketed £100 million at the cost of nearly 6,000 jobs.

Marc Wolpow, a former managing director at Bain, thinks Romney tried to ‘whitewash’ his career to run for president. ‘We had a scheme where the rich got richer,’ says Wolpow. ‘I did it, and I feel good about it. But I’m not planning to run for office.’

Though Romney left Bain in 1999, he has continued to receive big payments from it, including £1.25 million last year. He paid just 15 percent tax on that cash. Today it is unclear just how much money Bain has made for Romney and co, but his fortune is widely thought to top £150 million. According to Nicholas Shaxson, the author of tax havens book Treasure Islands, Romney has up to £18 million stashed in the Cayman Islands alone.

What might Bain have in store for our plasma? If its track record is anything to go by, there’s going to be blood on the carpet.


This article is from Red Pepper.

Comments (12)

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  1. jmttrial says:

    So what you want to ask is who in the Tory Party hierarchy will benefit from this. That is where the impetus has come from; that is who the debt will benefit. Also, how can the services of Plasma Resources be safeguarded from bankruptcy so interruption in supply is mitigated. What are the safeguards built into this sale, or is a continuously available blood supply not of much use to the New Tory NHS?

  2. I cant give blood at the moment but I have given blood,plasma and platelets,and if money becomes part of it I would refuse to donate.

  3. Dcanmore says:

    When you consider the amount involved, £230m, as compared to public spending and the country’s debt, then this is chicken feed money. It has to be asked: why? It only leads to three conclusions: A. Somebody in the Tory party is profiting from this; B. It’s the ongoing process of privatising the NHS; C. Both! Conclusion: the Americanisation of the National Health Service.

    Also note, in London I see NHS ambulances with G4S branding on them… “Proudly in partnership with the NHS”. Indeed, I believe former Health Minister Dr John Reid is on the board of that global corporation, no connection obviously :/

  4. Wullie says:

    Discontinuing donations will only hurt people who desperately need blood & plasma and possibly ultimately yourself.
    Cutting off noses is not the answer, disgraceful as this business is.

    1. macs says:

      well donate to non profit companies and they can donate to the N.H.S noway should people be making money out of this.BLOOD MONEY

    2. we must hit the @@@@@@s where it hurts the bottom line

  5. Bruce Hollands says:

    Watch for more privatisation of Scottish services still under Wastemonster control. Project Fear is running scared and want to sell off those Scottish assets still under London influence!

    1. macs says:

      VOTE YES IN 2014

  6. macs says:

    i will not be donating

  7. Dr Pangloss says:

    This is a badly written article if it has created the impression that the NHS blood donation service has been privatised.

    The company being sold is one the UK government bought about a decade ago to secure supplies of blood plasma. The company pays Americans to donate to create the plasma. The need for American plasma was created due to fears over BSE/CJD (mincing cows up to feed to cows resulting in bovine and human brain disease) and consequently no longer using plasma from UK donors.

    The NHS blood donation service is not being privatised (for the moment at least).

  8. douglas clark says:

    This ought to be as bad as it gets.

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