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Privatisation is ripping the NHS from our hands

‘Last year, a majority of new contracts to provide NHS services went to private companies. Most of these private companies hide behind the NHS logo but siphon off a profit. Collectively, such providers received more than £10bn from the public coffers in 2013. And according to the Financial Times, around £5.8bn of NHS work is currently being advertised to the private sector, a 14% increase on a year earlier.

Clinical commissioning group (CCG) leaders do not consider that privatisation is their main agenda. They do admit, however, that they face difficult decisions regarding the need to tender which, in a nutshell, is a tool for commissioners to facilitate competition. Promoters of the concept of Any Qualified Provider who indulge in marketisation do so under the false belief that this achieves better health outcomes, which flies in the face of both the theory as well as overwhelming evidence that equity, efficiency and equilibrium of the NHS are adversely affected.

For the last two decades, the leaders of all major political parties have been wedded to the concept of the marketisation of healthcare. Do they seriously believe that private healthcare companies would not put profits before patients? The idea that competition breeds excellence and market forces drive efficiency is a myth. There is not an iota of evidence that the costs go down and efficiency improves when private companies deliver NHS care. Costs increase and services may well get worse. Already we have seen major companies such as Serco criticised for failing to report accurately on their performance. An NHS contract for elective services with the private company Clinicenta was terminated due to poor quality care. It was bought out at great expense to the taxpayer and taken back in-house by the NHS. The commissioning system makes it easy for private providers to cherry-pick tasks to ensure they maximise their income and overall profit from the NHS while minimising their costs. It must be largely paid for by some kind of central taxation like the NHS, or an insurance scheme like in the US and other developed countries. This means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what is affordable.’

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