DoH spokesperson: ‘There is absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services’

The Financial Times reports an arms race between private companies competing for over £5Bn of health contracts. Christian Mazzi, head of health at the consultancy Bain: ‘Now the rules of the game are changing. We can compete for all of the NHS budget on equal terms. What was traditionally locked up in the NHS is going to become available to the private sector…’


Despite which, the Department of Health repeats: ‘There is absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services’


Meanwhile the Royal College of Nursing website reports that despite the best efforts of staff, some parts of the NHS 111 service are now in chaos, and urgent action is needed to prevent this from having tragic consequences for patients.


The comments came as the RCN expressed its concern about the news that NHS Direct is to begin a “managed exit” from its contracts to deliver NHS 111 services.


Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said this move is the latest in a series of very worrying developments.


“NHS Direct has proved to be a key source of information, reassurance and advice for people and families for many years, giving expert care and shouldering a burden which would otherwise be taken up by the emergency services,” he said.


The RCN fully supports a single point of contact for patients to get help and advice from the NHS but says the announcement raises concerns that a locally commissioned, fragmented system may not be able to provide the high standard of service and advice that patients need.


“We remain concerned that patient care may suffer if the person who takes calls is unable to quickly and easily access clinical expertise or escalate relevant calls to senior staff who are able to make decisions about the care needed,” Dr Carter added.


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