We authored ‘Trading Faces: The Global Private Data Haul Behind Public Service ‘Revolutions’, to provide context to the unarticulated changes taking place, particularly within the NHS. We wanted to join some dots.

We began by looking into Simon Stevens (Head of NHS England), who previously worked for United Health (2006-2014) – the biggest healthcare insurer in the US. Before that he was advisor on health for the Tony Blair government, focusing on  the ‘marketisation of the health service’ during the deployment of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs)- described as debt ‘timebombs’ underneath the NHS. 

We have submitted FOIs regarding Stevens’ position, and will update here with responses. This is an ongoing project and we welcome insight, information and comments from NHS staff, patients and the General Public – Email us at info@realmedia.press

We recommend reading the report in full for the complete research, but it is available in three edited sections:

  1. Function Creep and FinTech: The Aadhar ID Card – The Indian ID scheme has created the largest biometrics database in the world. But the ‘function creep’ of FinTech sees a previously voluntary scheme turn increasingly mandatory. With the introduction of Aadhar Pay – allowing payments between users linked to biometric ID – was the intention to ‘bank the unbanked’ and turn citizens into consumers all along? ‘Once you enroll, you can’t un-enroll’ We also look at the wider geopolitical implications of increasing biometrics use at US borders under Trump.
  2. All Data Is Credit Data – Featuring an interview with Sociologist Beverley Skeggs. This year, Skeggs released new research into the way Facebook is tracking users, with some alarming results. Our data is being traded and shared with other data brokers, who evade regulation and accountability while knowing more and more about us. ‘I’d say it’s the biggest political issue of our times’, says Skeggs. FinTech wants to ‘challenge the traditional banks’ and is increasingly trying to make economic assessments of us. ‘If you look at how many times a person says ‘wasted’ in their profile, it has some value in predicting whether they’re going to repay their debt. It’s not much but it’s more than zero.’ Is Facebook becoming a credit rating agency? 
  3. Mining The NHS: The American Way -As the Department of Justice joins a lawsuit to sue United Health for fraud against the US taxpayer in the ‘likely billions’, we take a closer look at the rise and rise of United Health, and how techno woo enabled them to capture reforms under Obamacare/The Affordable Care Act, despite using this same technology and data capture to commit other examples of large scale fraud. United Health competes alongside Virgin Care and Interserve for NHS contracts here in the UK, currently providing to 156 NHS organisations. They provide technology too. What will the NHS look like as companies like United Health increase their grip? 

By Kam Sandhu & Ranjan Balakumaran

Edited by: Jude McArdle

Additional Reporting: Lori Inglis-Hall & Cristina Brooks

Video by: Clear Blue Films 

Images by: Peter William Rudd

If you enjoyed our work, and would like to see more, please consider making a donation to Real Media via The Media Fund

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