BMA report

Privatisation of the NHS

This is our latest report on privatisation, the use of private healthcare companies and independent sector provision in the NHS in England.

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Thursday 25 November 2021
Topics: NHS delivery and workforce
NHS Structure Article Illustration

We believe that private healthcare companies should be held to the same standards as NHS providers, including transparent reporting of patient safety incidents and performance.


Is the NHS for sale?

We look at the extent and impact of independent sector provision in the NHS in England.

  • An update on how much the NHS is spending on independent sector provision of NHS care.
  • A breakdown of CCG spending on independent sector providers by sector.
  • BMA member views - is the NHS being privatised?


Key findings

  • Spending on independent sector provision is broadly stable but remains high.
  • In 2017/18, 7.3% of the DHSC budget was spent on gifting NHS contracts to private healthcare companies (£8.8bn).
  • As a proportion of the DHSC budget, independent sector healthcare provision remains high compared to historic levels.
  • BMA members remain concerned about the levels of independent sector provision.


NHS provider selection regime consultation

NHS England carried out a consultation on proposals for a new NHS provider selection regime.

The BMA broadly supports the central proposals – namely the move away from enforced competition.

However, we do not believe that the removal of section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and the other changes set out go far enough to limit procurement arrangements with independent sector providers. It also doesn't ensure the future sustainability of the NHS or a more collaborative system.

Read more in our full consultation response.

  • Spending 
  • CCG spending 
  • Quality of care 
  • CQC inspections
  • Impact on the NHS
  • Doctors' views