NHS cancer care could switch to private contracts in £700m plans | Society | The Guardian
Cancer care in the NHS could be privatised for the first time in the health service’s biggest ever outsourcing of services worth over £1.2bn.
A host of private healthcare firms have already expressed interest in securing a £689m, 10-year contract to provide cancer care at four NHS GP-led clinical commissioning group areas in Staffordshire.
The four CCGs involved, which care for 767,000 patients, are also seeking bidders for a separate £535m contract to provide end-of-life care. Together the contracts are worth £1.22bn, much more than the previous record high of £500m, secured by Richard Branson’s Virgin Care for providing various health services in Surrey.
Virgin, Care UK, Ramsay Health and other private firms, many of which have increased their role in providing NHS care amid an expansion of competition driven by the coalition’s NHS shake-up, have attended briefings run by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support, which is advising the four CCGs on the cancer contract.
Christina McAnea, head of health at the union Unison, expressed grave concerns about the plans. “This is by far the biggest procurement process in the NHS and is a dangerous experiment. We are talking about £1bn of taxpayers’ money and contracts lasting 10 years in vital cancer services and end-of-life care,” she said.
“CCGs are potentially handing over all decision-making on cancer and end-of-life care to private companies. This is much bigger than just asking private companies to provide a service: this is asking them to design the whole system. With profit as the main driving force, how can it not lead to problems?”
While an NHS organisation could bid for the contracts, the four CCGs said they were open to the successful bidder being an independent.....