NHS campaigners have long warned of accelerating Tory privatisation of the NHS since former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act forced the NHS to put more and more services out to tender and prevented them protecting true NHS provision.
Now the collapse of huge construction and outsourcing firm Carillion has put a spotlight on one of the most serious risks of allowing private firms to carry out any critical NHS functions.
According to senior union official Jennie Formby, Carillion’s collapse puts at risk a large number of NHS facilities and services:
Two hundred operating theatres and almost 12,000 beds are only the tip of the iceberg of the threat that privatisation has posed – a threat that has grown rapidly in recent years of Tory government:
In just the most recent three complete years, the award of NHS contracts to for-profit and non-profit companies – has increased by sixty percent and represented almost two-thirds of the total in the most recent year.
In cash terms, the scale of the situation becomes even clearer:
The numbers show that the value of NHS services put out to tender leaped by more than 1100% in a single year from 2013/14 to 2014/15 and has remained high – and the number of contracts last year was at a record high.
By applying the percentages to the tender values, we can see that just in the last three years, over twelve billion pounds’ worth of NHS services have passed into non-NHS hands.
Around ten percent of its total budget.
As many NHS contracts may be for longer than three years, it’s likely that the total in company/non-profit hands will be much higher – though according to the King’s Fund, it is hard to measure because of the different ways it is reported and measured.
An NHS already collapsing under the weight of investment coming almost to a standstill under the Tories and the impact of profits taken by its private providers would be pushed into complete implosion by the collapse of even one major private contractor.
Yet the government wants to do more and is currently reorganising the NHS into ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ (ACOs) that will give private companies the opportunity to take over the awarding of contracts, not just to bid for them.
In the context of such deliberate idiocy, the threat to the NHS and its patients of a collapsing ‘goliath’ provider is huge.
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