NHS trusts buy in more care from private sector

NHS TRUSTS sharply increased the amount of health care they bought in from the private sector last year, Department of Health figures show, writes Nicholas Timmins.

Trusts increased their spending with non-NHS bodies more than three-fold: this can range from buying operations for NHS patients in private hospitals to diagnostic services or even a complete kidney dialysis service. The figure for 1991-92 was pounds 12m rising to pounds 44.5m last year.

District health authorities also increased the amount of private health care they commissioned from just under pounds 160m to more than pounds 187m. Regional health authorities cut spending in the private sector by roughly one third to pounds 21.5m but this was because the mix of services for which they are directly responsible changed.

Overall in the hospital and community health sector the purchase of health care from non-NHS bodies, which includes the voluntary sector, rose by just under one-fifth from pounds 204m to pounds 253m.

In total that amounted to just over 1 per cent of revenue spending on hospital and community health care.