The NHS has been offered up to the private sector, says Britain's chief doctor - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent

The NHS has been offered up to the private sector, says Britain's chief doctor

 

Health Reporter

The NHS has been served up to “armies of lawyers and accountants” from the private healthcare industry, the leader of Britain's doctors has said, accusing the Government of a double-pronged attack on the health service driven by privatisation and cuts to services.

In a strongly worded attack, Dr Mark Porter, chair of council for the British Medical Association, accused the Coalition of ushering in a “a bumper year for multinationals” and of inflicting cuts to the health service driven by an “uninformed and arrogant assumption” that the NHS is inefficient.

Speaking to doctors at the BMA's annual conference, Dr Porter said that doctors would “fight every day” until the General Election to expose “the chronic lack of investment” in the NHS.

Fears over mounting pressures on the health service are dominating the final BMA conference before the 2015 election. In a sign of deep frustration with the Government, doctors voted to oppose their plans for a “seven-day NHS” in which non-urgent services would be available at the weekend – arguing that under current NHS budget constraints, hospitals would have to close in order to free up cash to pay doctors and nurses to work extra hours.

Doctors are also furious over the increasing role of competition and private providers in the NHS. Although the Government maintains that its health reforms did not change NHS competition laws, Dr Porter said that “whatever the reassurances, a bizarre market culture has been created”.

Members voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion expressing “dismay” at recent figures which suggested that private providers had won the majority of tenders for NHS services since the Coalition's health reforms.

Dr Porter said that pressure to tender NHS contracts to as many potential providers as possible had led to “market lunacy”. In one case, he said, no fewer 500 potential providers had been asked if they could provide an expression of interest in running NHS services in Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire. The BMA claimed the list included American private healthcare companies and even “faith-based” health groups run by Franciscan nuns.

Dr Porter said the paperwork and bureaucracy involved with such bids was unaffordable at a time of budgetary constraint.

He said the paperwork and bureaucracy involved with such bids was unaffordable at a time of budgetary constraint.

“Do we really want an NHS that is so obsessed with private companies tendering for the work? Or do we want an NHS that is passionate about tending to the weak? It doesn't have time to be both,” he said.

The Government has protected the NHS budget, but annual funding increases, which used to rise with ever-increasing demand, has remained flat for five years. All three political parties are now under pressure to confirm whether or not they will back a significant increase to the health service's £110bn annual budget amid signs that the performance of the NHS on key measures such as cancer treatment waiting times and GP access is beginning to dip.

Ministers also deny that the health reforms changed the rules regarding tendering of NHS contracts.

A Department of Health spokesperson said “It is critical that patients get the best possible care, free at the point of use, no matter who provides it. NHS competition rules haven't changed under this government but the bureaucracy-busting reforms are saving over £1bn a year and spending on private sector providers equates to just six per cent of the total NHS budget.”

“Market lunacy”: how the private sector encroaches on the NHS

A review of NHS services in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes is taking place, costing more than £3m. According to the BMA, the two clinical commissioning groups involved have written to no fewer than 500 potential providers asking if they wish to provide an expression of interest in running NHS services.

The list the BMA has seen includes potential providers from 14 different countries, including 150 US healthcare companies. Among the companies contacted was the Louisiana-based Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, and the Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsered Ministries in Wisconsin, both faith-based groups run by nuns. Representatives for the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review said they had only contacted six international organisations, but the BMA insisted many more have been contacted. The Department of Health said that local commissioners shouldn't “waste cash sending letters halfway across the world”.

Analysis from January this year produced by the NHS Support Federation found that 39 of 57 NHS contracts awarded between April and December went to private firms.

While the Government maintains that their health reforms have not forced competition on the NHS, many CCGs, which commission NHS health services, have spent large amounts of money on hiring competition lawyers to ensure that contracts are in line with the new laws. Research by Labour revealed that £5m had been spent by CCGs on competition lawyers – enough for 120 nurses. However, the Government maintains that competition law was introduced into the NHS by Labour themselves.

Healthcare from private sector providers equates to around six per cent of total NHS expenditure - 1.3 per cent more of the NHS budget today than in 2010

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    History Teacher

    £110 - £160 per day + Mileage & Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Required i...

    Nursery Nurse

    £7 - £8 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Nursery Nurse jobs in South Glouc...

    English Teacher needed for long term cover

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay TBA: Randstad Education Reading...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special needs assistants Jobs i...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week