While NHS resources are facing a renewed and tightening financial squeeze, the limited funds available are more likely than ever to be diverted to paying for services in private hospitals and clinics, while NHS beds and resources remain closed or under-used.
We know this from NHS England’s ‘Delivery Plan,’ which is supposed to enable the recovery of acute services from the after-effects of the pandemic, but in fact accepts that waiting lists could rise to 14 million before they fall, and that long waits won’t be eradicated until 2025.
The Plan is heavily – one might almost say obsessively – focused on the need for long-term reliance on the “capacity” of the private sector. It’s far and away the most consistent theme running through the 50-page document. Here are the key passages:
“The physical separation of elective from urgent and emergency services … will include a strengthened relationship with independent sector providers to accelerate recovery.”
“More people offered the option of treatment by high quality independent sector providers, free at the point of care.”
“As we tackle the elective backlog, a long-term partnership with our independent sector partners, including charities, will be crucial in providing the capacity we require to deliver timely and high quality care for patients.”
Full story in The Lowdown, 30 March 2022