LONDON (Bywire News) - Today's political spotlight shines squarely on Frank Hester, the entrepreneur behind a whopping £5m donation to Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party. More intriguingly, his healthcare tech company, the Phoenix Partnership (TPP), didn't just secure NHS contracts—it profited a staggering £135m in less than four years, according to The Guardian.
Who Is Frank Hester?
Frank Hester is more than just a healthcare tech entrepreneur; he's also a political heavyweight, with an estimated wealth of £415m according to the Sunday Times Rich List. His company, TPP, is a critical supplier to around 2,700 GP surgeries in England, offering computer systems and electronic medical records support. He was honoured with an OBE in 2015 for his contributions to healthcare.
The Financial Breakdown
TPP wasn’t just award recipients; they were profit-makers, claim The Guardian. The company distributed over £20m in dividends between 2019 and 2022. As Hester is the sole shareholder, it doesn't take a detective to figure out who's pocketing these sums. Last fiscal year, TPP's main operating arm, Phoenix Partnership (Leeds), reported a turnover of £75m and a pre-tax profit of £47m.
Talking Points and Contradictions
Last year, Hester declared in an open letter to the NHS, "We are here to help. Not to drive profits for shareholders." This altruistic posture raises eyebrows when juxtaposed with the company's hefty profits and the substantial Tory donation.
A Deeper Dive
The Good Law Project, spearheaded by Jo Maugham, exposed the scale of Hester and TPP's profits from NHS contracts. Since April 2020, the company has profited £137m, largely under the GP IT Futures framework. "Once you see how much Mr Hester profits from an NHS starved of funds, you understand his loyalty to a government that enables him," commented Maugham.
Controversies and Hiccups
TPP has had its share of controversies. In 2018, the company was embroiled in a scandal for failing to inform NHS Digital that 150,000 patients had opted out of sharing their medical data, leading to unintentional sharing.
The Official Line
When asked for comments, both TPP and the Department of Health and Social Care chose the path of silence.
(By Michael O'Sullivan)