UK government wasting money on private treatment centres

Researchers writing in the BMJ, argue that there is no good evidence that independent sector treatment centres provide value for money or high quality care. The involvement of private companies in the UK’s National Health Service always generates controversy.

Some people believe that only commercial interests can bring innovation and efficiency to modernise the NHS. Others assume that the profit motive is incompatible with the pursuit of excellence in health care.

Commenting on the paper, Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association – BMA’s Consultants Committee, says:

“This paper adds to criticisms from the Public Accounts Committee and the Healthcare Commission relating to the quality and cost effectiveness of these centres. We have repeatedly raised concerns that this is ?5 billion wasted on ideology rather than evidence. The government seems to have been charmed by the private sector, but is unable to prove its effectiveness or value for money.

“The lack of integration and collaboration with local NHS services leads to fragmentation of care for patients, leaves the NHS picking up the pieces, and has a major impact on training future doctors – with long term consequences for the NHS.”

This debate has been reignited by the announcement that United Health Europe, a subsidiary of a large American health company, has won a contract to run three NHS general practices in London.

Source: British Medical Association, UK

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