Just under 2% of CCG spend on NHS clinical services is awarded through competitive tender, research has revealed.
The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), the representative body for independent healthcare providers, sent FOI requests to all English CCGs between January and April 2019 to find out how many contracts were issued under competitive tender.
The IHPN received responses from 131 CCGs, revealing that between 2015 and 2018 just 1.96% of CCG spending on NHS clinical services was through contracts awarded via competitive tender.
Of the contract that are competitively tendered every year, CCGs award on average 1.3 to NHS organisations and three to non-NHS providers, the research found.
However, IHPN revealed that the annual value of contracts awarded to NHS bodies was far greater, at £8.5m compared to £2.4m for non-NHS providers.
The findings, the organisation suggests, calls into question the necessity of NHS England’s proposal to repeal the current requirement forcing CCGs to use procurement on contracts over the value of £615,278, as mentioned in section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
IHPN chief executive David Hare argued that the findings show that CCGs are not ‘compelled into tendering clinical contracts’, as only a small proportion of the clinical services they commission are competitively tendered.
Mr Hare said that as the Government considers new legislative changes to deliver the 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’.
He added: ‘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.’
Last month, the Labour Party warned that 19 new healthcare contracts could be awarded to private providers, urging the Government to make sure they are given to NHS bodies by scrapping section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
In February, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock told the Health and Social Care committee that there would be ‘no privatisation of the NHS’ under his mandate, clarifying that the new integrated care provider contracts will also be awarded to NHS bodies.