NHS Struggling To Monitor Services Outsourced To Private Providers

Private Companies Not Adequately Assessed On Safety And Efficacy

22.04.2015

The NHS is struggling to monitor and assess services that have been outsourced to private providers, a new report has claimed.

Local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) spend as much of 16% of their care budget on some 15,000 contracts with private providers, including large multinationals and companies backed by private equity.

Recent high-profile cases of errors, abuse and poor management of contracts with private providers, such as Winterbourne View Hospital, prompted a freedom of information request by independent think-tank Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) to all 211 CCGs.

Of the 199 that responded, 60% had failed to record the number of site inspections undertaken of facilities run by private providers, and 12% had not carried out any. Only 16 CCGs had imposed financial sanctions due to poor performance.

The CHPI called on NHS England to commission an independent audit of CCGs' capacity to monitor and manage these private contracts, and implement standards for publishing performance data.

Colin Leys, the report's co-author, said: "The picture that is emerging is of an NHS poorly equipped to ensure that healthcare services outsourced to for-profit providers will provide safe, high-quality care and good value for money."

Expert Opinion
It is extremely concerning to see reports that some NHS services are not being monitored correctly, which could lead to the health and safety of patients being put at risk. We recognise the fact that some services need to be outsourced, but it is absolutely imperative patients are provided with the standard of care they rightly expect.

“We have seen first-hand the impact errors can have on patients and their loved ones and it is crucial the report is taken into account and any outsourced services are closely monitored to ensure standards are upheld and patients are reassured they will receive the best possible treatment available to them.
Julianne Moore, Partner