New research conducted by the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has revealed that the NHS competitively tenders contracts worth less than 2% of overall clinical commissioning expenditure.
A recent FOI issued by IHPN to all English CCGs, with responses from 131, found that services awarded by competitive tender made up just 1.96% of total CCG spending on NHS clinical services.
The research found that CCGs awarded competitively tendered contracts valued at more than £8.5m per year to NHS organisations, compared to just £2.4m awarded to non-NHS providers.
However, the research also revealed that, while small in number, competitively tendered contracts were more likely to be awarded to non-NHS providers. Each CCG awarded an average of just 1.5 competitively tendered contracts to NHS organisations per year, compared to 2.7 awarded to non-NHS providers.
David Hare, chief executive of IHPN, said: ‘These figures demonstrate that far from being compelled into tendering clinical contracts, the NHS competitively tenders only a tiny fraction of the services it commissions, making up less than 2% of total CCG spending on NHS clinical services.’
Hare went onto say that it is absolutely right that commissioners have discretion over when to tender services and to decide how services are aligned in the best interests of NHS patients. However, this needs to be balanced against the need to ensure that poorly performing providers are replaced and new providers introduced when new service models are required.
‘As the government considers whether legislative change is needed to deliver the NHS Long-Term Plan, reforms must be based on the principle of securing the best possible provider of patient care, regardless of whether they are from the public, independent or third sectors,’ said Hare.
‘This is what the public expect,’ he continued, ‘67% of the public agree that the NHS should be able to replace a poorly performing public provider with a private provider if it improves the service and remains free at the point of use.’
In a separate move, IHPN interviewed 1,777 English adults between 12 and 14 April 2019 to gauge the public’s perception of private sector involvement in the NHS.
The findings suggest there is little opposition among the public to private health services replacing NHS services so long as they remain free at the point of use and of high quality.
The survey found that 68% of respondents did not mind whether their NHS care was provided by a public, private or voluntary organisation provided it was free and quality standards were maintained.
Similarly, 67% of those surveyed agreed that the NHS should be able to replace a public sector provider that is delivering a poor service with a private sector provider if it improved the service.