Reports indicate that officials in the NHS have decided against purchasing thousands of operations from private hospital groups.
David Hare, chief executive of NHS Partners Network, which represents independent providers, indicated that private hospitals had offered to deliver 55,000 surgical procedures and 200,000 diagnostic tests in the last quarter of 2015.
Yet the decision has been taken to respect the public ethos of the NHS and prevent further commingling between the public and private sectors.
Of course, the decision has not been met favourably by the NHS Partners Network, and Hare has written to Jeremy Hunt on the matter.
Less than 1% of the total capacity was taken up, and there is certainly an argument to have private involvement in the NHS considering that the health service is failing to meet targets on waiting times.
December figures indicated that the NHS failed to meet the requisite target in this area, while numerous other targets were missed as well concurrently.
In his letter to the Health Secretary, the aforementioned Hare states that the situation is “clearly unacceptable that patients, carers and families are left waiting longer than necessary for treatment while capacity, available to NHS patients, continues to go unused”.
And Hare further seeks the assistance of the Health Secretary in the assessment process for “blockers for using all capacity across the NHS and we want to work with you and the national NHS bodies to reverse the declining position on waiting times across many parts of the NHS”.
Those who are sceptical of the position of the Conservative government on the NHS will no doubt believe that it is likely to be receptive to pressure to embrace public sector initiatives.
But defenders of the inclusion of private sector corporations in NHS operations will point to the efficiency of the private sector, and its ability to transform performance in the health service as a whole.
Commenting on the issue, Miriam Deakin, head of policy at NHS Providers, was keen to emphasise the contribution of private sector healthcare suppliers and companies to the NHS.
Deakin also suggested that there are fundamental problems in the health service that can be addressed by partnerships between public and private sector organisations.
“It is important to recognise that the capacity of the independent sector to meet this need does vary across the country”.
However, a spokesperson from the Department of Health defended with the performance of the health service, and the decision of the government to decline of the private operations in question.
“The NHS is performing well — this year carrying out record numbers of operations and dealing with more diagnostic tests than ever.”