Is the government’s policy on privatisation shifting?

Our privacy policy has changed, but is the government's policy on privatisation shifting?

"Capita put patients at risk" was the conclusion a new report by the The National Audit Office. it coincides with news that ministers are considering reversing some of the controversial changes made in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which were overseen by then-Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley and resulted in a surge of NHS contracts being opened up to the private sector.

Just five years on and another major re-organisation is underway - but is it the end of the privatisation project? Here's 4 pieces of evidence that suggest not.

1. The big private sector players remain committed to winning NHS contracts. Virgin Care won £1bn worth of NHS contracts last year and Care UK £596m.

2. The latest NHS redesign will provide new opportunites for the private sector:


Firstly; moving care out of hospitals into the community will provide new business opportunities. Companies like Circle and The Practice are already adapting. The line between social care - that is means tested and health care - that is free, will shift, unless funding for public provision keeps up with demand. Virgin is moving to take advantage and has already won a ground breaking contract to provide social care and health care in Bath and North Somerset.

Secondly; under current plans the new structure will give a single organisation control of the budget and the delivery of all services. The contract allows for this to be a private sector company and the government has not ruled it out.

3. Even though there is substantial evidence of the failure of mass tendering, the legislation remains in place. There has been no announcement to change these regulations, but even a shift towards integration will not curtail NHS outsourcing. Without a full commitment to public provision sub-contracting will continue to thrive and could even make the awarding of contracts less transparent.

4. Privatisation has many forms. PFI still remains resulting in huge payouts to private investors. Most recently private GP providers have emerged to offer video consultations. Spin off companies are being created by cash strapped trusts to lower VAT payments, but are privatising thousands of NHS staff.

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