The private sector isn’t just providing NHS services, but now commissioning them too

Save our NHS, nurse image by Chris MillettIt had always been the Thatcherite/Blairite dogma of service provision that the big private companies – whether the likes of Capita, G4S, Serco, A 4E, Atos or the huge US healthcare multinationals – wouold provide all the health services, but the commissioning would be done by the independent public sector. Now even that split, with the public sector confined to a relatively marginal role, is being done away with and the carving up of the NHS in all its various roles by these private behemoths is now all but complete. Continue reading

NHS Commissioning: Why You Should Care

One of the reasons the government have had an easy ride over its plans for the systematic looting of the NHS by Tory-friendly private health companies is the sheer complexity of their restructuring. Unlike, say, the Department for Work and Pensions, where there is a single bureaucracy responsible for administering a particular public service and a clear line of accountability stretching from the job centre complaint form to the Secretary of State.

It’s not a perfect set up by any means, far from it. But to use a well-trodden phrase, you know where you stand. The NHS on the other hand was transformed into a patchwork of semi-autonomous, competitive trusts and hospitals under the Blair/Brown governments. As of the beginning of the month, matters have taken an even more retrograde step. The trusts have gone and in their stead are hundreds of GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups.

It is the role of these organisations to buy in (commission) NHS services from any number of public and private providers. So, while treatment is free at the point of need in the vast majority of cases – for the moment – a new health market underpinned by the taxpayer is the mechanism for its delivery. Continue reading