latest health care news

01.11.12

More and more NHS procedures done by private sector

There has been a 10.5% jump in the number of NHS procedures carried out by the private sector, official figures suggest. 

Private providers treated 345,200 NHS elective admissions with a procedure in 2011/12, a 32,900 (10.5%) increase on 2010/11. 

The figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), show that private activity accounted for 4.3% of all NHS elective admissions with a procedure in 2011/12 (8.0 million) compared to 4.0% in 2010/11 (7.7 million). 

The data comes from Hospital Episodes Statistics Admitted Patient Care, England 2011/12.

The three most common main procedures carried out by the 198 private providers for the NHS in 2011/12 were endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract, relating to the digestive system (23,100), prosthesis of lens relating to cataract surgery (20,800) and endoscopic cartilage operations on knee joints (20,500). 

The HSCIC says that the PCT commissioning the most private work was Southampton, at 30.3%, with the ten lowers areas all being in London. 

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Hospital Episode Statistics have the potential to offer an incredibly rich and detailed picture of the activity happening within secondary care in this country. 

“The figures also provide an insight into the relationship between the NHS and the private sector; in terms of the volume and type of work dealt with by private providers on behalf of the health service. 

“Today’s report shows that NHS hospital activity continues to grow on a yearly basis – with admissions passing 15 million in England in 2011/12.” 

Today’s report into NHS activity in England shows that there were 15m admissions overall, including emergency and elective admissions with or without a procedure, a 0.9% rise on 2010/11 (14.9m) and a 15.7% rise on 2006/07 (13m). 

There has been an ongoing decline in the number of admissions for assault, but big rises in the number of admissions wholly attributable to alcohol. Hip replacement procedures and bariatric procedures also showed big increases – although obesity experts have suggested that trend could be going into reverse as commissioners choose cheaper options, despite the long-term benefits bariatric surgery can produce. 

The data can be found at www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/hes1112

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