Health care is understood by most people to be a social good rather than a source of profit. Various changes resulting from a series of health bills (eg 1989/ 2012) have led to healthcare being treated as a commodity - something to be bought and sold ('purchased' and 'provided'). The Health and Social Care Act passed in 2012 has resulted in thousands of NHS contracts being put out to tender. Hundreds of contracts are now advertised and awarded each year. Our research has found that over 60% are won by non-NHS bodies.
The cost of this healthcare market is difficult to calculate and estimates vary widely at between £10 billion and £4.5 billion per year. Part of this expense results from a growing list of contracts that have collapsed, or have been terminated prematurely.
The growing list of contract failures spans all areas of healthcare from acute hospital care, through community care and the ambulance service to primary care and back-office functions of the NHS. And the list of failures is growing as more and more companies realise that the chronic underfunding of the NHS means that little or no profit can be made out of these contracts.