Seven in ten NHS contracts 'go to private sector'

Almost 70% of NHS contracts awarded since April last year have been awarded to private firms, the NHS Support Federation has stated.

The figures come from an analysis of competitive tender notices on the European public procurement website and cover the period between April and December 2013. Out of 57 contracts awarded, 39 were won by the private sector, the federation reported.

The Department of Health said the figures were misleading because they only apply to a small sample selection of contracts. A spokesman told the BBC: “The reality is that private sector providers only carry out around 6% of all NHS work.”

The contracts cover a range of services, including mental health services, GP and out-of-hours care, as well as diagnostic tests.

Director Paul Evans said: “I think people are going to be genuinely surprised by what's happening. The scope of this change means that it is affecting all kinds of care that you might experience as a patient, everything from your first visit to the GP, diagnostic tests, treatment in hospital and care further on from that.

“We're talking about the whole gamut of care and a massive change in the way we use services in the future.”

But David Hare, chief executive of NHS Partners Network, said: "The figures quoted by the NHS Support Federation are based on a very small sample of contracts and are not representative of the wider NHS. Overall the independent sector currently provides around 6% of NHS clinical care and this figures has only increased by 1% since 2010.

"Open competition for NHS contracts allows commissioners to choose the best available provider for services regardless of whether public, private or voluntary sector. But this is not privatisation of the NHS. Services delivered by independent sector providers under the NHS banner have always been free at the point of delivery and we know that the vast majority of people do not mind who delivers their care as long it is free."

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Image c Dominic Lipinski/ PA Wire


Tom   15/01/2014 at 18:39

What does Private Sector mean; the phrase is loaded with political connotations. If by Private Sector we mean entities that are forced by circumstance (shareholder or regulator) to reduce expenditure and retain funds (for building reserves or profit) then the reality is that Foundation Trusts are working as disparate "Private Sector" entities now...

Nick   10/02/2014 at 12:03

As a tax payer I believe this money should not be given to profit driven companies or shareholder interests. There should not be any profit made from people becoming ill. I believe once this system is in place and the dismantling of competition has occurred stretching of price will begin, making the current NHS system unaffordable.

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