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).

Private companies biggest winners

The success rate of private companies in winning contracts is high, according to the data; profit-making companies won 65% of clinical awards in the last two years. Since 2010 the annual win rate has been consistently over 60%. Several companies have built up large portfolios of NHS contracts. Virgin Care has won deals worth over £1 billion since 2012. Other prominent companies, such as Care UK, Circle, InHealth, Lloyds Pharmacy and Boots, have all won numerous contracts.

Non-profit-making organisations (charities and community interest companies) have also gained a small share of the work available; since April 2013 £396 million (7% of contracts) has been won by non-profitmaking bodies, including charities.