Private providers take over NHS

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mark_britnell web Most NHS service contracts are being contracted out to the private sector in the wake of the new competition legislation.

A study by pressure group the NHS Support Federation shows that of 16 NHS service contracts awarded since 1 April 2013, 14 have gone to the private sector and only two to NHS providers.

A total of £1.5bn worth of NHS services has been put out to competitive tender under the new rules, and the private sector is expected to gain most of the contracts.

The largest contract awarded since the new legislation is worth £50m: a private firm has been contracted to provide ambulance services in Exeter.

Other services contracted out to private providers since 1 April include out of hours GP services, diagnostics and community healthcare.

CCGs are now required to put nearly all services out to competitive tender or risk lawsuits from private providers under business law.

The Government denied that the new legislation would drive a private sector takeover of NHS services, as critics said it would.

Paul Evans, Director of the NHS Support Federation, said: “Far more NHS treatment is being purchased through the market; billions of pounds of public money is up for grabs. Some will go to the NHS, but from this analysis it looks like the lion’s share could be secured by the private sector.

“Many parts of the NHS could lose out on funding as eager commercial companies take advantage of this golden opportunity to get a slice of the NHS budget.”

In May 2011, former head of NHS commissioning Mark Britnell (pictured) told an audience of private health company leaders: “The NHS will be shown no mercy, and the best time to take advantage of that will be in the next couple of years.”