Saturday 6 April 2019 / 12:01 AM Jonathan Ashworth / NHS

£36 million of new NHS contracts tendered in just six weeks

Labour demands Health Secretary blocks NHS privatisation rather than focusing on his own Tory leadership manoeuvres, as £36 million of new NHS contracts tendered in just six weeks

Labour will today slam the Health Secretary for proceeding full steam ahead with NHS privatisation, as it reveals 19 new contracts worth £36 million have been put out to tender since mid-February.

 

Today new House of Commons Library analysis undertaken for Labour reveals a total of 21 NHS contracts worth £127 million are currently out to tender.

This includes a £91 million contract to run an NHS 111/Clinical Assessment Service in the South East, which has been out to tender since 10 February 2019.

On 19 February 2019, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, demanded the Health Secretary block private companies from securing 26 NHS contracts worth over £128 million out to tender at the time after Matt Hancock MP promised “there would be no privatisation of the NHS under my watch.”

Ashworth will today accuse the Health Secretary of breaking his promise and demand that he prioritises ending privatisation of the NHS by keeping these contracts in public hands- instead of working on his own Tory leadership bid.

The 2012 Health and Social Care Act obliges NHS CCGs in England to tender out any contract worth over £615,278. This has led to a huge increase in the number of NHS contracts awarded to profit-driven firms such as Virgin Care.

These contracts are tendered on precisely the same regulations and legislation that NHS England’s Long Term Plan has urged the Government to repeal. Labour is demanding ministers step in, follow NHS England and block this competitive tendering which undermines true integration of services in public hands.

In 2017/18, £8.8bn of the health service budget went to independent sector providers- a 50% increase compared with 2009/10.

It recently emerged that the Health Secretary has endorsed Access MyDentist, a private firm profiting from patients who cannot access an NHS dentist due to cuts.

This is just the latest in a string of endorsements of private healthcare by Matt Hancock MP.

In November 2018, Justin Madders MP, Labour’s former Shadow Health Minister, wrote to the Prime Minister expressing concerns that the Secretary of State may have breached the Ministerial Code by endorsing Babylon, a private healthcare company, in a paid-for-newspaper supplement.

Babylon’s GP at Hand, of which Matt Hancock is a patient, has been roundly criticised by doctors’ groups ‘cherry picking’ fit, young and health patients and financially destabilising traditional GP practice.

Earlier this week NHS England threatened to sue Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust for libel, for raising concerns that privatising a key element of cancer treatment would endanger patients’ health.

Labour has pledged to reverse privatisation of the NHS and return the health service into expert public control, as well as repealing the Health and Social Care Act which puts profits before patients.

 

Speaking today at the Health Campaigns Together Annual General Meeting, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, will say:

“Since the Tories’ wasteful reorganisation of the NHS we’ve seen privatisation after privatisation of NHS services, breaking up integrated care, costing the taxpayer and leaving a poor quality service for patients.

“Labour will bring an end to this profiteering in our NHS and restore our health service to public hands.

“Tory privatisation will be killed stone dead under a Labour government and we’ll bring forward the necessary legislation to reverse the Health and Social Care Act and reinstate a publicly provided NHS in our first Queen’s Speech.

“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 today we’re revealing another £36 million worth of contracts put out to tender in the last few weeks.

“Rather than focusing on his own personal manoeuvrings for the Tory leadership, Mr Hancock should be true to his word and now block these latest NHS privatisation proposals.”