The NHS spent over £9 million in damages over botched operations in the last 12 months, which compares extremely unfavourably with the same figure from just a few years ago.
Back in the 2010/11 financial year, the NHS paid out just £3.2 million pounds over this issue.
In total, failures by private contractors have cost taxpayers nearly £33million in damages in the past five years – almost £52 million including court costs.
The figures were uncovered by the Labour MP Roger Godsiff, who was understandably highly critical of the amount of money being paid out due to major mistakes.
“It is unacceptable people’s health and even lives are being put at risk by the failed experiment of privatisation. It is simply not possible for companies to make what they regard as an acceptable profit unless they undercut on safety standards and provision for emergency care, leaving the NHS to pick up the pieces for poor or dangerous care.”
Godsiff also suggested that the government was unduly protecting the private sector with its existing policy, and that the NHS should acquire new rights that don’t apply currently.
“The NHS should, at the very least, have the powers to recoup costs resulting from private contractors’ ineptitude.”
But the Department of Health moved to defend the current procedure, suggesting that the existing regulations are stringent.
A spokesman on behalf of the department commented that “patients deserve the safest and best care at all times, and all organisations are subject to the same strict regulatory regime.”
This issue is a particular political hot potato, as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has already indicated explicitly that he would prevent agencies from “ripping off the NHS” in this manner.
Yet it seems that the amount of money being paid out owing to this situation has trebled in a matter of just five years.
Agency spending is one of the biggest costs to NHS trusts and is putting increasing pressure on the health service’s finances.
In capping the amount that can be paid out to agencies via fees, Hunt claimed that he would save the NHS £1 billion by the end of the decade.
Indeed, numerous money saving schemes have been put forward over the last few years, as the NHS attempts to achieve efficiency savings of £22 billion by 2020.
The new hourly price cap was introduced for all types of agency staff, in addition to the nursing cap announced in June, ending the practice of some agencies charging up to £1,800 for a standard shift for a nurse and £3,500 for a weekend shift for a doctor.