A review lead by Sir David Dalton suggests companies could be contracted to manage publicly funded hospitals, for which he used Spain as an example.
Currently, only one of the 242 hospital providers is run by a profit-making firm, Circle, which won a 10-year contract to operate Hinchinbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire. The review, headed by Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal NHS Foundation trust, also suggests that a single private or public organisation could own and operate chains of hospitals across wide geographical areas, standardising clinical pathways and cutting back-office and procurement costs.
The options are the most eye-catching from a menu of choices Dalton and a panel of chief executives have provided for the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as a means to lift standards of healthcare across the NHS despite its continuing financial crises. They include Circle boss Steve Melton, previously Argos supply chain director.
In a letter to Hunt outlining the possibilities, Dalton asked: “Why should any family have to accept that a relative living in one area can be confident in accessing excellent care whilst another, with the same needs living elsewhere, cannot? We might understand some of the reasons for this variation, but we should not tolerate the extent of it.”
Rather than seeing it as a great loss for what the NHS stands for, Dalton views privatisation as a safeguard to ensure reliable and high quality care for the public.