Hospital Dr News

Two thirds of doctors are concerned about NHS privatisation, survey finds

More than two thirds of doctors are uncomfortable with NHS privatisation, a report shows.

The BMA report says the most common reasons for the concern is that private provision destabilises and fragments NHS services.

The report also found that doctors believe that the primary motivation for some private sector providers is profit, rather than providing the highest possible standard of care for patients.

The key findings of the report include:

  • More than two-thirds of doctors are fairly or very uncomfortable with private providers delivering NHS services, with the most common concerns being that it destabilises and fragments NHS services;
  • In 2014/15, £6.9bn was spent on procuring services from independent sector providers, which is a 5.4% annual increase;
  • The report recommends that private providers should be held to the same standards as NHS providers including transparent reporting of patient safety incidents and performance;
  • The report recommends that safeguards should be introduced to protect NHS patients and services if contracts are terminated early by independent providers.

With the NHS needing to achieve £22bn in annual efficiency savings it cannot afford to be left to pick up the bill from failures of private providers.

NHS privatisation

The BMA supports a publicly funded and publicly provided NHS. Where independent sector providers are already delivering NHS services, the priority should be for them to support the NHS to deliver high quality services.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, more attention needs to be paid to private sector provision of NHS services to assess whether it provides value for money, high-quality, safe care to patients, as well as the impact it has on other NHS services.

“The NHS exists to provide the highest quality care for its patients. Anyone who doesn’t accept that, or gets in the way of achieving it, should not be allowed near it. That’s true for anyone who works in the health service, and it’s also true for any individual or company providing services within it.

“Patient care simply cannot take second place to finances. In an era of declining funding, rising patient demand and staff shortages, we need a new way forward that addresses the challenges facing our NHS.”

Read the full report.

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