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TORY arguments that the private sector could do things better than the NHS have been “blown out of the water” and patients have paid the price, a doctor warned today.
The comments came after an Oxford University study, published in the Lancet, found that outsourcing of the public healthcare system is linked to higher deaths from treatable causes, potentially as a result of a decline in the quality of services.
Treatable mortality rates have stagnated since 2013, the study said, breaking from a declining trend over the previous 10 years and leaving England with mortality rates that compare poorly with other high-income countries.
An annual increase of 1 per cent in outsourcing to the private-for-profit sector corresponded with an annual 0.38 per cent increase in treatable mortality across 173 clinical commissioning groups, the study found.
Since 2014, outsourcing was associated with an additional 557 deaths in the groups.
Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman and retired consultant paediatrician Dr John Puntis said that the study illustrates the dramatic impact of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act driving forward privatisation of services has had.
He said: “Private companies strive to undercut the NHS in tendering, and save money by reducing numbers of staff and diluting skill mix. Hospital teams and services become fragmented.
“The argument that a leaner and more efficient private sector could do things better than the NHS has been blown out of the water, and patients have paid the price.
“Far from protecting and nurturing the NHS, this government has been slowly starving it to death and hoping the public would blame staff.
“This study provides a stark message: outsourcing must be ended and services brought back in house if the government is serious about improving population health outcomes and levelling up.”
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