Fresh increase in NHS spending on private providers

The latest Department of Health and Social Care Annual Report and Accounts (2022-23) have updated the published figures on NHS spending on private sector and non-NHS providers.

They show that the private sector spend went UP in cash terms by £600m last year, while the DHSC’s total budget actually went DOWN by £6.7bn (from £183.548bn to £176.774bn).

This means that the percentage spent by commissioners on private providers went UP, from a recent low of 5.9% in 2021-22 to just under 6.5% in 2022/23. However this increase does not show up in the published figures because the DHSC report rounds the figures – so both come out as 6%.

With more detail the sequence since 2017/18 runs 7.3%, 7.3%, 7.2%, 6.6% (in 2020-21 when private spend increased by £2.45bn (25.2%) but total spending, inflated by Covid costs, increased by 35.2%,  £47.3bn), 5.9%, 6.5%.

It’s also worth noting the significant impact of inflation which means that £11.5bn in 2022/23 is the equivalent of £10.3bn in 2019: but even so the cash increase of 18% spent on private providers since before the pandemic (2019/20) is a 5.9% increase in real terms.

Full story in The Lowdown, 31 January 2024

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