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Private sector on rise in England’s NHS, says BMJ

One-third of NHS contracts have gone to private providers since healthcare reforms
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A third of NHS contracts in England have been given to private sector providers since the Health and Social Care Act came into force in April 2013, claims the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The publication analysed 3,494 contracts awarded by 182 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England between April 2013 and August 2014, which showed that non-NHS providers secured 45% of contracts.

Of these, 1,149 contracts (33%) were awarded to private sector providers, 335 contracts (10%) were given to voluntary and social enterprise sector providers and 100 contracts (2%) were awarded to other providers such as joint ventures or local authorities.

The remaining 1,910 contracts (55%) went to NHS providers, including NHS hospitals and community practices.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Act was much criticised upon its publication for opening the NHS up to private competition, putting patients' healthcare at risk.

The main concern was around the introduction of a policy to award services to any qualified provider, allowing non-NHS organisations to provide NHS services if commissioners saw fit to do so.

The BMJ's analysis shows the impact of this policy in the first year, with private sector providers also more successful at winning contracts awarded via competitive tender, gaining 80 contracts (41%) over NHS providers who won 59 (30%).

The BMJ suggested that joint ventures between the NHS, the private sector and other firms could become more common as CCGs look for new methods to deliver care while committing to NHS standards.

Steve Kell, GP and co chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners representative group, said: “CCGs are trying to develop a sense of joint responsibility for populations, so people in the hospital are thinking beyond their hospital walls to look at nursing home quality and anything that affects our patients. It's about working together.”

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

17th December 2014

From: Healthcare

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