New evidence nails the “no NHS privatisation” lie

This week as the governments controversial Health and Social Care Bill enters its final stages in the House of Lords, patients, health workers and campaigners are to come together on Wednesday for a TUC-organised Save Our NHS rally in Westminster. On Wednesday (7 March 2012) over 2,000 nurses, midwives, doctors, physiotherapists, managers, paramedics, radiographers, cleaners, porters and other employees from across the health service will join with patients to fill Central Hall Westminster. Once inside they will listen to speeches from politicians, fellow health workers, union leaders and health service users.

The government habitually dismiss accusations of NHS privatisation. However a new analysis of NHS contracts produced by the NHS Support Federation shows how they will have to confront reality.

Ministers say that very little NHS money goes to private companies (6% is the figure often given). However since the changes were brought in for the NHS in April 2013, private companies have been winning large contracts to plan and deliver NHS work and their involvement with the NHS has grown dramatically. In April 2014-15 alone private companies won awards totalling over £3.5 billion, five times higher than the figure in the previous year (April 2013-14).

More care through the market

Not only have the government’s changes to the NHS increased the use of private companies, but they have increased significantly the use of the market to plan and deliver care. Over the last year, (April 2014–15) £9.6 billion worth of NHS contract awards were made through the process of competitive tendering, up from £1.2 billion in the year before the NHS changes (April 2012-13) and just £291 million in the year after the last election (April 2010-11). Since April 2013 over £21 billion worth of opportunities to plan and deliver NHS care have been advertised, that’s over 1000 contracts up for grabs covering every aspect of the patient journey.

The data has been gathered and analysed by the NHS Support Federation from the contract notices posted by commissioners on official tendering websites. The details have been tracked since April 2010 providing a comprehensive overview of the trends.