The involvement of the private sector in the NHS has always been a controversial but increasing relevant topic of conversation. Although private companies have always taken a role in the foundations of the NHS everyday running, concern has been growing over the increasing amount of privatisation the NHS is experiencing over time, which is believed to be undermining the core values of the National Health Service.
Private provision of our free healthcare services has always been a controversial topic, although lots of services, such as dentists, opticians and pharmacies, have been provided by the private sector for decades and you will find that now most GP practices are private partnerships too.
The National Audit Office (NAO) have said that lack of investment in the health service by the Conservative government has resulted in “substantial deficits” that have been covered up by dipping into funds intended for long-term reform, meaning that it is very unlikely the NHS is actually able to sustain the demand and increasing pressures from our ever growing population and life expectancy.
The long-term plan introduced this year, which has displayed how the NHS will use the £20.5bn a year funding increase, that Theresa May pledged last year, includes plans of action to improve every area of physical and mental healthcare, for example:
- The use of online and video appointment services, offering convenient and timely appointments to millions of patients via platforms like Skype. This is intended to reduce the amount of people sitting in waiting rooms and going to emergency service care like walk in centres unnecessarily.
- 1 in 3 patients are benefiting from care given by community based services, rather than occupying hospitals with their outpatient appointments. These appointments account for 30 million at hospitals and will help to alleviate pressure on hospitals.
- More funding to alleviate the obvious difference in life expectancy that is seen between poor and wealthy individuals.
- The increased recruitment in healthcare professionals from foreign countries, this has been sighted to minimise the damaging impact of chronic NHS lack of staffing, something that has been extremely detrimental to the national health service for years.
So what does all of this mean for the private healthcare sector, the NHS and it’s patients?
Well not much really, the NHS will continue to depend on and work with the private sector to offer patients the best course of care possible to give and will prioritise the areas of the NHS that need the attention private companies can offer, like long waiting lists. As long as patients can access timely and free healthcare to a good standard there is really no huge issues surrounding the increasing merge between private and public healthcare. The NHS can only benefit from addressing their own haemorrhages in the currently national health services with the partnership and ventures that the private healthcare sector can offer.