Primary care trust (PCT) spending on independent healthcare services was up more than 10% in 2011/12.
According to independent healthcare researchers Laing & Buisson, PCTs in England increased their spend on independently commissioned healthcare providers by 10.7%.
In their newest report, NHS Financial Information 2013, total NHS spending on independent healthcare providers was £5.9 billion in 2011/12.
The report estimates that 6.5% of the total £90.7 billion NHS budget was spent on private and voluntary organisations.
A Laing & Buisson spokesman said: “Driving this increase was strong growth of over a third in spending on independent community health services (£1.5bn), energised by the end of direct provision by PCTs during the year.
“It was further supported by strong growth in general and acute health service spending, which rose by nearly a fifth to be £1.6bn.”
However, the report showed that PCT spending on primary care services supplied by independent providers fell “sharply” by more than 25%.
There was also a sharp decline in spending on learning difficulties (12% drop) and spending on mental healthcare was static.
The PCT with the highest spend was Birmingham North and East, which increased its spend by 10% to reach £201 million in 2011/12, according to the report.
Surrey PCT was the next highest at £185 million but increased its spend by an even larger 14%.
Increased dependency on the independent sector was most notable from Nottingham City where spend was up from £85 million to £136 million, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, up from £77 million to £120 million.