'Record 2018 total comes after health secretary pledged no privatisation on his watch'
'The amount of the NHS budget going to private healthcare firms has reached unprecedented levels, despite the health secretary’s pledge to roll back outsourcing of patient care.
The Department of Health and Social Care handed a record total of £9.2bn last year to private providers such as Virgin Care and the Priory mental health group, its annual report shows.
That is an increase of 14% from the £8.1bn that went to profit-driven healthcare companies in 2014-15 and £410m more than the £8.77bn they received in 2017-18.
It comes after Matt Hancock pledged to MPs in January that “there is no privatisation of the NHS on my watch”.
The House of Commons Library has verified the upward trend and sums involved from analysis it undertook at Labour’s request of figures about the DHSC’s purchase of healthcare from organisations outside the NHS contained in the last five years of the ministry’s accounts.
“Tory privatisation of our NHS continues to gather pace with public expenditure on independent providers now at a record high”, said Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health and social care secretary.
“These accounts blow apart Matt Hancock’s claims to parliament there would be no privatisation on his watch.”
The relentless rise in NHS privatisation is occurring even though NHS England has declared its desire to drastically reduce what it says it views as the damaging tendering of services as part of its drive to create much more integrated care, ideally delivered by NHS providers. It has produced detailed proposals – backed by Theresa May – that it hopes will form the basis of legislation to drive private firms out of the provision of NHS care as far as possible.'
Read more: Private firms given £9.2 billion of NHS budget despite Hancock promise