The compensation claims for patients whose NHS treatment was bungled by private healthcare providers has doubled in the last twelve months. In 2015-16 successful claims cost the taxpayer a whopping £21.1 million, compared to £8.9 million in the previous financial year. Since the coalition took office in 2015, private sector blunders have totalled £54 million.
The former Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott said:
“These figures are appalling and confirm public fears that private providers are infiltrating the NHS at the expense of the taxpayer.”
Government figures reveal that the number of operations carried out by the private sector has risen from 313,000 in 2010, to 536,000 in 2015. The number of compensations claims would appear to mirror the rise in the number of procedures.
While mistakes and human error can never be completely avoided the amount of compensation paid by the taxpayer highlights one of the many problems with profit driven providers of healthcare. They are happy to provide treatment and trouser the huge sums that it generates, yet when things go wrong they expect to be exempt from responsibility and leave the taxpayer to foot the bill.
The NHS Litigation Authority has responsibility for trying to claim money back from negligent providers, yet bizarrely they are unable to provide any statistics at how successful they have been at doing so.
The NHS Partners Network, which shill for private health providers, claim that:
“Independent providers deliver almost 8% of all NHS care but account for a much smaller proportion of compensation paid.”
There are two glaring problems with these disingenuous claims. Firstly, private providers cherry-pick the type of procedures they undertake, leaving the complex, risky and unplanned cases with the NHS, therefore it is logical to assume that the number of errors would be relative to the nature of treatment that is delivered. Secondly, while the private sector are responsible for considerably fewer compensation claims (as a percentage) than the NHS, they currently don’t pay any of the compensation; the taxpayer does.
The private sector has the best of both worlds. It amounts to privatisation of profit and nationalisation of liabilities.