NHS privatisation linked to rise in avoidable deaths

pharmafile | July 1, 2022 | News story | Medical Communications  

NHS privatisation was connected to over 500 deaths from treatable diseases in England over five years, a study from Oxford University has found. The “devastating” research has found that the privatisation of NHS care a decade ago corresponds with “significantly increased” rates of death from treatable causes.

The first study of its kind, this landmark review found that outsourcing, which was accelerated by Andrew Lansley’s “shakeup” of the NHS in England, is linked to the drop in quality of care. Lansley was Health Secretary in 2012.

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, and published in The Lancet journal. It has been billed as the first full assessment of NHS privatisation in the wake of Andre Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act, an Act which encouraged more outsourcing. Since, billions of pounds of taxpayer money has been given to private companies to treat NHS patients, the review found.

Dr Aaron Reeves of Oxford University, who co-authored the study, commented: “These results clearly have implications for the NHS privatisation debate, suggesting that increased outsourcing to the private sector could lead to a decline in the quality of care provided to patients.

“While more research is needed to determine the precise causes of the declining quality of healthcare in England, our findings suggest that further increases in NHS privatisation would be a mistake.”

With 6.5 million patients now waiting for care, a new record, and private companies being used to address the backlog worsened by the pandemic, this research underlines concerns over increased privatisation of the NHS in England. 

“While some have argued the Health and Social Care Act would improve the performance of health services by increasing competition, our findings add merit to longstanding concerns it could instead lead to cost-cutting and poorer health outcomes,” said the study’s lead, Benjamin Goodair of the University of Oxford.

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