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BLAIR ADVISER QUITS AFTER NURSING HOME SCANDAL

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A millionaire businessman advising Tony Blair and health secretary Alan Milburn on NHS reforms has been forced to s...
A millionaire businessman advising Tony Blair and health secretary Alan Milburn on NHS reforms has been forced to step down as government adviser on the elderly, as well as from the board of Help the Aged, following a report into one of his former company's nursing homes, reported The Observer (p2).

Chai Patel, a Labour Party donor and advocate of private companies providing NHS services, has agred to stand down because of an independent report exposing the neglect and treatment of 72 frail residents at Lynde House in Twickenham, London. The scandal at the£800-a-week home, where elderly people were found to have suffered physical injuries, lack of basic hygiane, a high rate of infections and poor nursing care, has already caused concern over nursing home standards.

The report dealt with allegations by relatives and residents going back to 1999. The home at the time was owned and run by Westminster Health Care, the company founded by Mr Patel. Earlier this year, he sold his share in the company and he is now chief executive of Priory Healthcare, which provides mental health services.

His role as one of the government's advisers - helping both to devise strategy on care for the elderly and on the use of the private sector in the NHS - had been increasingly difficult. On 3 September, members of the taskforce were told he had decided to step down once his tenures expired in November.

A campaign was supported by Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat MP for Twicenham, as well as senior Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who wrote to the prime minister to ask why Mr Patel remained a government adviser. 'I've always been concerned that advisers with a direct commercial interest in private healthcare were being used to give advice to the government', she said.
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