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The FT reports that private health companies are seeking talks with ministers and health service leaders to secure a bigger role in providing NHS care amid frustration that the Conservatives have failed to drive the growth of the sector.
A BMJ analysis showed that 54% of just under 3,500 contracts, awarded between April 2013 and August 2014, went to NHS providers. A total of 33% were awarded to private sector providers, 10% to voluntary and social enterprise sector providers, and 3% to other types of provider, such as joint ventures or local authorities.
The NHS Partners Network, which represents private [independent] providers, extolled the performance of private groups, which it said had:
- better than average NHS waiting times for elective operations,
- lower than average cancellation rates
- and patients reporting better results for procedures such as hip and knee replacements and groin hernias.
David Mobbs [exBUPA, former consultant to Ernst & Young] chief executive of private hospital group Nuffield Health, said the relationship needed to be “revisited & refreshed” to keep the NHS financially sustainable as it faces a £30bn funding gap by the end of the decade.
Companies that would take part in any expansion of the private sector’s role include Ramsay Health Care UK, BMI Healthcare, Care UK, Spire Healthcare and Nuffield Health. The NHS Supply Chain’s biggest suppliers of procurement, logistics and ecommerce, include Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Philips Healthcare, GE Healthcare Clinical Systems and Johnson & Johnson Medical.
David Cameron’s recent speech is said to reflect a belief in Whitehall that the NHS will be unable to satisfy growing demand without the additional capacity that the independent sector provides. Many have noted the large number of MPs in the last government with links to private healthcare companies (names and details here).
“We can’t do it without the private sector,” said one government insider. The health department said: “Independent providers play an important role in the NHS and have done for many years, helping patients get prompt care free at the point of use. The decision to use independent providers is made by the NHS itself, based on the best interests of patients.”
An important question
Shouldn’t the focus on increasing privatisation for the benefit of corporates and their shareholders be redirected, instead, to investigating this finding: “The cost of standard clinical procedures can also vary enormously between hospitals. Research commissioned by the FT last year found taxpayers were paying up to five times more for operations in some NHS hospitals compared with others”.
Lancashire GP David Wrigley’s verdict: “We are wasting billions annually on administering an unwanted healthcare market where providers fight each other for contracts and NHS managers spend their lives refereeing and sorting this all out. No one (except the private health industry) has asked for this. The money saved from scrapping this market system could fund decent social care for all the elderly and vulnerable people in our society”.
Posted in Civil servants, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Economy, Finance, Government, Health, Lobbying, MPs, Outsourcing, Planning, Privatisation, Taxpayers' money, Vested interests