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Block private companies from getting £128m of NHS contracts, Labour urges


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
20 February 2019

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NHS contracts currently out to tender should not be awarded to private companies, the Labour Party has said.

The Government should instead standby the NHS long term plan in its call to repeal current regulations preventing CCGs to decide when procurement is needed.

There are currently 26 NHS contracts worth over £128m out to tender, the House of Commons Library told the Labour Party, which is calling on health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to make sure they are not awarded to profit-driven companies.

Undermining integration of services

Under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, CCGs have to tender out contract of a value above £615,278.

According to the Labour Party, this has meant that a greater number of contracts were awarded to private companies such as Virgin Care.

Competitive tendering hinders the integration of health and social care services and ministers should block it, The Labour party said.

In line with what NHS England suggested in the long term plan, published last month, the Government should end the legislation allowing competitive tendering for the procurement of healthcare services.

The long term plan said that by repealing these regulations, NHS commissioners would be able to decide when to use procurement as ‘the current rules lead to wasted procurement costs and fragmented provision’.

Responding to the Labour Party research, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that the decisions to award these contracts ‘are clinically-led by NHS experts and based on what’s best for patients’.

Privatisation of the NHS

Speaking in front of the Health and Social Care Committee earlier this month, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said that there would be no privatisation of the NHS on his watch.

The Labour Party is now inviting Mr Hancock to honour his promise by also guaranteeing these contracts are awarded to public bodies.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘The most intriguing part of the long term plan is the remark that the Health and Social Care Act has created a complete mess, hindering integration and it proposes scrapping the so-called section 75 provisions.

‘If [the Conservatives] are going to support NHS England’s call to get rid of the section 75 arrangements, which put through a proposed privatisation, why do they not block the £128 million-worth of contracts that are currently out to tender? If they do not, it will be clear that the Tory party is still committed to privatisation in the NHS.’

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