The private healthcare company Circle Holdings has secured a £74 million deal to provide orthopaedic services in London.
Circle Holdings will take over the contract on a five-year basis, despite previously struggling to deliver similar NHS services satisfactorily.
The company notably pulled out of a contract to run an NHS hospital just last year, which will lead some people to question the validity of this latest public-private partnership.
Many will also review the deal as indicative of the general trend towards outsourcing in the public healthcare system.
Indeed, the deal represents the first time that the Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group has commissioned all orthopaedic activities from a private sector company.
Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for commissioning most of the healthcare services for Greenwich.
Under the terms of the new contract, Circle Holdings will be responsible for managing musculoskeletal services for over 275,000 people.
Savings of £12 million will be made over the five-year period that the contract will run, which makes the likelihood of renewable quite high, if indeed Circle is able to improve upon its previous performance.
Steve Melton, Circle Holdings’ chief executive, was effusive about the prospects of this new multi-million deal.
“Circle’s selection validates our record of managing integrated [muscular skeletal] services, which we successfully pioneered in Bedfordshire. Circle looks forward to working closely with the [Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group] and local providers to ensure the delivery of an integrated, high quality muscular-skeletal service for Greenwich patients.”
Yet not all will share the perspective of Melton, particularly at a time when private sector involvement in the NHS is very much in the spotlight.
The Labour leadership candidate, Owen Smith, has reiterated the position of Jeremy Corbyn that there should be minimal private sector involvement in the public-run healthcare service.
This is despite the fact that Smith had previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry before becoming an MP.
According to Department of Health figures, the amount of funding that has been diverted to independent sector providers more than doubled from £4.1 billion in 2009-10, Labour’s last year in government, to £8.7 billion in 2015-16.
Naturally political opponents of the Conservative party have attributed this to the existing government, although it can be said in mitigation that considering the financial difficulties of the NHS, identifying an alternative solution will be far from elementary.
Other prominent NHS contracts have been offered to such providers as Virgin Care, while Circle already provides orthopaedic services in Bedfordshire as well as running a number of private hospitals.