Hospital Dr News

Investigation reveals creeping NHS privatisation

A third of NHS contracts in England have been awarded to private sector providers since the service was reorganised in 2013, research suggests.

Of 3,494 contracts awarded by 182 Clinical Commissioning Groups in England between April 2013 and August 2014, 33% went to the private sector.

The information comes from Freedom of Information requests made by the BMJ, although it’s unclear how much the contracts were worth because CCGS wouldn’t disclose this information citing commercial sensitivities.

The BMA said the figures show the extent of creeping privatisation in the NHS since the Health and Social Care Act was introduced.

BMA council chair, Dr Mark Porter, said: “The government flatly denied the Act would lead to more privatisation, but it has done exactly that.

“Enforcing competition in the NHS has not only led to services being fragmented, making the delivery of high-quality, joined-up care more difficult, but it has also diverted vital funding away from front-line services to costly, complicated tendering processes.”

The BMJ investigation looked at different types of contract to provide NHS clinical services, including those awarded to a single provider without an open tender, those awarded via a competitive tendering process, and those awarded to multiple providers under Any Qualified Provider.

Private sector providers were most successful at winning contracts awarded via competitive tender – 80 compared with 59 won by NHS providers.

Private firms were also more likely to win smaller contracts on an Any Qualified Provider basis, for services such as diagnostics, audiology, and podiatry in the community.

Porter added: “What’s worse is that there isn’t even a level playing field as private firms often have an unfair advantage over smaller, less well-resourced competitors, especially those from the NHS and social enterprises.

“To undo this damage we need an honest and frank debate about how we can put right what has gone wrong without the need for another unnecessary and costly top-down reorganisation.”

However, the government said the data is misleading.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Official NHS accounts show that use of the private sector amounts to only six pence in every pound the NHS spends, slowing the rate of increase to just one penny since May 2010.

“Charities, social enterprises and other providers of healthcare play an important role in the NHS, as they have done for many years.”

Figures suggest that the proportion of NHS budget spent on commissioning private providers has doubled since 2006/7.

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation