Tory private health deal branded waste of money as experts fear no help for NHS


Campaigner Dr John Lister, of Keep Our NHS Public, said the new deal showed ministers and NHS England had learned nothing from the sums wasted on unused private capacity in 2020

Ambulances parked outside Queen's Hospital in Romford, East London
Ambulances parked outside Queen’s Hospital in Romford, East London

A Tory deal to pay private hospitals millions to take NHS patients has been blasted as a huge waste of public money.

Critics condemned the three-month arrangement with 10 health care firms which is intended to offer cancer surgery and urgent care to NHS trusts if they are overwhelmed by Covid cases.

Experts, campaigners and trade unions believe the new deal, backed by undisclosed amounts of taxpayers’ cash, will line multinational firms’ pockets and care for very few NHS patients.

They say private hospitals can only take on extra patients by poaching medics from the NHS, which needs 100,000 more staff.

At least 26 NHS trusts stretched to the limits have declared critical incidents in recent days.

Boris Johnson joins pupils in a cookery class as he makes a constituency visit to Oakwood School in Uxbridge
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In the first year of the pandemic, NHS England signed contracts worth more than £2billion with private hospital firms. Yet they delivered less than 0.1% of the nation’s Covid care and took on fewer NHS patients than the year before, said the Centre for Health and the Public Interest think tank.

Campaigner Dr John Lister, of Keep Our NHS Public, said the new deal showed ministers and NHS England had learned nothing from the sums wasted on unused private capacity in 2020.

The health policy academic said: “Private hospitals can only take on additional NHS patients by poaching additional staff trained, and employed, by the NHS.”

He said: “Tory ministers now prefer to squander more millions on short-term stop-gap deals with profit-seeking private hospitals than invest in reopening the ­thousands of NHS beds.”

Dr John Lister said the deal showed ministers and NHS England had learned nothing from the sums wasted on unused private capacity in 2020

Cat Hobbs, of campaign group We Own It, said decades of under funding has stretched the NHS to its limit and this is now an excuse to hand out more private contracts.

“Not only does this open the door to further privatisation of our NHS, it’s also a huge waste of public money.”


Cat Hobbs said decades of under funding has stretched the NHS to its limit
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But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the agreement showed the collaboration across our health care services to create an extra safeguard that ensures people can continue to get the care they need.

The UK has one of the fewest hospital beds-per-head of ­population of almost any developed nation.

NHS England said more than 470,000 NHS day cases, almost 2.8 million surgical procedures and more than 500,000 diagnostic tests were carried out in the private sector in the past year.

Sajid Javid said the agreement showed the collaboration across our health care services to create an extra safeguard
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NurPhoto/PA Images)

The UK recorded 142,224 more confirmed Covid cases today and 77 more deaths.

Weekly Covid hospitalisations are up 34% in the North East but in London, where Omicron first took off, hospital admissions in 2022 are now down about a fifth.

NHS England chief operating officer Sir David Sloman said the new deal “means as many people as possible can continue to get the care they need”.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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