One of the key issues to arise in campaigning for this month’s UK General Election is the future of the NHS and the role that private companies, in particular US-based healthcare companies, might play in that future following Brexit. Last week, the Labour leader Jeremy Corybn claimed papers he had obtained showed that the NHS was “up for sale”. This has been denied by the Conservatives.
Figures show that private businesses already have a significant interest in NHS healthcare and services and were awarded almost £15 billion in NHS contracts in the last five years. Additionally, NHS mental health services are dominated by private equity firms which are now estimated to provide nearly 25% of NHS mental health residential places. The Independent today highlights this issue and in particular the huge financial interests of three private equity firms Acadia, Cygnet and Elysium that have invested significantly in British public healthcare services, in particular in the psychiatric/mental health residential areas.
It remains to be seen how the NHS will fare post election, and post Brexit, but certainly private investment in NHS healthcare is already here and shows no signs of going anywhere. Difficulties in privately funded/run healthcare units attracts publicity and press attention, which seems to focus on the gap between the profits made by the private providers and the level of care provided. The publicity alone may well lead to further claims in relation to the care provided in these types of residential units, as well as any failings in care in such units.
Written by Jennifer Johnston, associate, BLM