NHS England spends 12 times as much on private care than, per head of population, NHS Scotland


In the Herald today we find, as usual, the ‘urgent call’ comes from one Loyalist List politician:

‘Health chiefs are facing calls for an urgent (😊 ) inquiry after it was claimed NHS patients could be “leapfrogged” by private patients to help health boards make money. Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for Lothian and a former convener of the Health and Sport Committee, called on the Scottish Government to intervene, saying he feared health boards could be trying to “supplement” their income by supporting high volumes of private work.’ 

How much does NHS England pay to private companies?



How much does NHS Scotland pay to private companies?

‘NHS Scotland uses independent hospitals when it cannot provide the patient’s needs. NHS Scotland pays the companies to provide services when they otherwise cannot. A total of £72m was paid out to the firms in 2016/17, [a five-year low] a drop of £6.5m [ 5%] compared to the previous year.’


So, in 2016/17, NHS England spent £9 billion with private companies, up from around £8 billion the previous year. In the same year, NHS Scotland spent £72 million with private companies, down from £78.5 million.

England has, conveniently, 10 times the population. So, you all things being equal, you might expect it to spend 10 times as much as NHS Scotland  on private companies, or £720 million. In fact, NHS England spent 12 times, per capita as much on private companies.


4 thoughts on “NHS England spends 12 times as much on private care than, per head of population, NHS Scotland

  1. Legerwood October 28, 2018 / 10:12 am

    I think you have to be a bit careful here because you are not really comparing like with like. Private Health Care Providers in England such as Virgin Care tender for, and are awarded, contracts to run entire services within BHS England Trusts – for example, cataract OPS, GO surgeries etc. Whereas in Scotland the NHS may send a patient to a private hospital for an op or diagnostic tests such as MRI scans and pay the private hospital for the costs incurred in treating the patient. Often it is done to reduce waiting times for patients. But it is being done on a patient by patient basis not on wholesale purchasing of the Private hospital/provider to run services such as cataract ops within a Health Board area.

    It is an important distinction since sending patients to private hospitals for treatment is often cited by opposition parties in Scotland as evidence of the SG privatizing health care which it is not. They have also used the treatment of private patients in NHS facilities as in the Herald story quoted above as evidence of privatizing NHS Scotland by the SG. Look at the btw comments on that Herald article.

    For a fuller insight into the situation in England with respect to Private Health Care Providers see

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 October 28, 2018 / 10:23 am

      Thanks. So, privatisation in NHS England is even more entrenched than my headline suggests?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Legerwood October 28, 2018 / 12:03 pm

        Possibly. It is quite difficult to get a handle on it. I have seen figures quoted as high as £12 billion yet others that are lower. Sometimes the Health Care Providers bidding for a contract will include NHS Trusts as well as private companies and charities. There also seems to have been a change in accounting procedures around 2013/14 which further muddied the water.
        Then you have things like Virgin Care suing the NHS because they were not awarded a £84 million contract to provide child healthcare services in Surrey. The same company also had a £104 million contract to provide child health care services taken away from them after it was challenged in court.
        The system in England is a bit of an expensive dog’s dinner.

        Liked by 2 people

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