SHA Press Release: Privatisation


NHS Privatisation and the Impact on Health Outcomes

A damning new study from Oxford University and published in the Lancet has found privatising and outsourcing healthcare services leads to preventable excess deaths.

A recent study published in the Lancet, conducted by Benjamin Goodair and Dr Aaron Reeves at Oxford University, concluded that outsourcing corresponds with more people dying from treatable conditions.

Specifically, it found increases in expenditure to for-profit companies corresponded with an additional 557 deaths from curable causes between 2013-19.3 Clinical outcomes are not the only area to suffer, as according to a recent study published in Elsevier4 which was based on evidence from 126 different NHS England trusts, outsourced cleaning services are linked with a lower standard of cleaning, resulting in the spread of serious infections (such as MRSA).

These conclusions are also supported by international comparisons5, which found privatised hospitals hire fewer staff, prioritise profitable patients, and selectively provide services, reducing key indicators of quality, equity and accessibility.5 The review concludes: “We find a fairly consistent picture. At the very least, health-care privatisation has almost never had a positive effect on the quality of care.”

In addition, the percentage of consultant-led treatments performed in private hospitals have tripled since 20111, such that around 1 in 10 NHS consultant-led treatments are now done in private hospitals.2 Commissioner expenditure going to for-profit companies has also doubled between 2013-2020 – from 3% to 6%, with over £11bn pounds of public money flowing to for- profit companies.3

SHA:We must not allow this to continue. Labour in government must ensure we have a publicly provided, publicly funded, free at point of use and complete health service operating in the context of a functioning welfare state which holistically addresses the social determinants of health. The SHA produced a document covering this topic, ‘In Place of Profit’, found here.