NHS Providers

Who are ‘NHS Providers’?

Feargus ORaghallaigh

I found the story at the link below remarkable …

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/13/hotels-being-used-as-care-facilities-to-relieve-pressure-on-nhs

Here is a related story:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/12/number-of-healthy-patients-stranded-in-english-hospital-wards-rises-by-80

I have long held the view that the current NHS is actually a system of hospital-led private provision of health care (much of it provided on a for-profit basis) funded by the Treasury. I also take the view that this model, with its Trusts and procurement model was brought in by Blair (Thatcher played with the idea but eventually pulled back on realising what a full-fledged market model would entail). Blair knew well what was involved with his ‘reforms’, which is why he went for it.

The Blair privatised NHS plus Johnson’s chumocracy model for dealing with covid have turned the Treasury into a very large trough for the enrichment of private businesses and capital accumulation. It has also become the basis for bureaucratic aggrandisement and growth – witness the appearance of a body new to most people I suspect, NHS Providers. Who knew already of the existence of this body (a registered ‘charity’ by the way) before its mention and featuring in the above two Grauniad pieces? Here is its web site where one can explore what it ‘does’. 

https://nhsproviders.org/

In a way the emergence of NHS Providers is understandable – once the centrally provided and administered service (the original NHS) was dismembered and broken up into trusts and foundation trusts as providers of hospital care and defining the health service as hospital-driven with ‘procurement’ (privatisation) at the heart of it all. NHS Providers has associate membership:

NHS Providers associate membership is open to commercial suppliers in the health sector who can bring new ideas, innovation and efficiencies to our members. 

The scheme is designed to support you in your commercial ventures by helping you to understand what our members need, providing you with a range of exclusive benefits and increased visibility among our members.

https://nhsproviders.org/partners/associate-membership

Then there are its ‘partners’:

NHS Providers works with a small, but growing, number of commercial partners to identify solutions that other trusts have successfully adopted and that we believe can help our members deliver better outcomes for patients. All partners have demonstrated how their teams and services have worked in and supported NHS trusts.

https://nhsproviders.org/partners/our-partners

Note the emphasis on the law among the partners listed.

One might further note how what the system does is also being redefined. There is now a defined category of “being medically fit to leave” with its own performance (or non-performance) yardstick, “delayed transfers of care” (DTOC), and an on-paper seamless link-up with social care including in-the-home and residential (as required). Yeah right.

On the one hand there is a certain logic to the theory though as a practical matter the distinction between health care and social care, how they are funded and administered is a ready-made shambles. Health care is a matter for the NHS and the Treasury while social provision is dumped on expertless local authorities with no facilities and dependent on procurement (that word again) from the private sector. Thus the development of companies like Abicare (https://www.abicare.co.uk/) and the for-profit private nursing homes sector (and now hotels) with local councils as purchasers. My own view is that the model for social care is a left-over, a legacy going back to the poor law and a de facto hospital-led model of health service provision. The Treasury and Health Ministry should be responsible for the lot.

See also

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/13/covid-nhs-in-crisis-mode-as-hospitals-told-to-discharge-patients-where-possible

Note.

See articles detailing the early days of the process of privatisation of the NHS in articles originally published in Labour Affairs, now available on Peter Brooke’s ‘Labour Values’ website at http://www.labour-values.com/nhs/

Wales and Scotland stopped the process when they gained their devolved
governments.

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