BMA Report Calls for Research Into Role of Private Providers

A new report from the British Medical Association (BMA) suggests that research into the growing role of private providers in the NHS should be conducted in order to diagnose its ultimate influence on both patients and medics.

The influential organisation believes that private providers who deliver NHS care should face the same level of Care Quality Commission regulation and scrutiny as regular NHS providers.

It is also believed by the BMA that there should be a requirement to deliver training included in the contracts of such providers.

The report suggests as a failsafe measure that it should no longer be possible for providers to register with the Care Quality Commission unless they are opened up to the same Freedom of Information requirements as existing NHS providers.

There is also be an onus on the Health and Social Care Information Centre to publish performance data on both NHS and private providers.

Recent data indicates that the spending of private providers in the NHS has increased every year since the turn of the decade.

This has resulted in overall expenditure rising from £4.55bn in that year to £6.91bn in 2014/15.

The independent sector now receives 6.3% of the annual NHS budget.

And the British Medical Association thus discovered that there is genuine concern about the influence of private medicine on the way that the NHS delivers its services.

The danger of fragmentation of NHS services coupled with the growing level of private provision were the two major concerns of doctors according to the BMA report.

Over 80% of respondents to the survey on which the report was based named these in their top two concerns.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA chairman, commented that it is essential for more investigation to take place into the efficiency of private service providers.

“At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressure, more attention needs to be paid to private sector provision of NHS services to assess whether it provides value for money, high-quality, safe care to patients, as well as the impact it has on other NHS services. The NHS exists to provide the highest quality care for its patients. Anyone who doesn’t accept that, or gets in the way of achieving it, should not be allowed near it. That’s true for anyone who works in the health service, and it’s also true for any individual or company providing services within it.”

Responding to the claims of the British Medical Association report, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health outlined the measures taken to limit private sector influence over the NHS.

“Use of the private sector amounts to around six pence in every pound the NHS spends, an increase of just one penny in the pound since 2010. Charities, independent organisations and social enterprises, such as Macmillan Nurses play an important role in the NHS, as they have done for many years and are subject to the same strict CQC inspection regime as the NHS – poor performing providers not meeting our high standards will be held to account.”


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