The Labour Party has called on health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to prevent what it fears could be the beginning of a privatisation of the NHS, revealing that 19 new contracts may be awarded to private providers.
Since mid-February, 19 new NHS contracts, worth around £36m, have been put out to tender, the party said.
In February, Labour revealed that 26 contracts worth over £128m were out to tender and invited Mr Hancock to deliver on his promise to avoid privatisation in the NHS.
Speaking at the Health Campaigns Together annual general meeting last week (6 April), Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said that Mr Hancock had failed to fulfil his promise and should now make sure these contracts are not awarded to private providers.
The party said there are now 21 NHS contracts, with a combined value of £127m, out to tender.
According to the party, the NHS awarded £8.8m of its budget to private sector providers in 2017/18, a 50% increase compared with 2009/10.
Under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, CCGs must consider private providers for any contract worth over £615,278.
The long-term plan suggested repealing this requirement, stating that ‘the current rules lead to wasted procurement costs and fragmented provision’ and proposing that NHS commissioners should have the freedom to decide when to use procurement.
For this reason, the Labour party renewed its calls on the Government to pass legislation that would ensure only NHS bodies can run the services that are currently out to tender.
This, the Labour party said, would be in line with what is stated in the NHS long-term plan and would favour better integration of health services.
When questioned by the Health and Social Care Committee in February, Mr Hancock said there would be ‘no privatisation of the NHS’ under his mandate.
Following the new figures published by Labour, Mr Ashworth said Mr Hancock ‘should be true to his word and now block these latest NHS privatisation proposals’.
He added: ‘A few weeks ago the health secretary told MPs there would be no privatisation on his watch and yet we’ve seen cancer PET-CT scanning services in Oxford privatised, and we’re revealing another £36m worth of contracts put out to tender in the last few weeks.’