CCG leaders are running a procurement process worth between £700m and £1.1bn to provide care services for elderly patients, in a move branded the ‘most audacious sell-off to date’ by Labour.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG is inviting bids for its ‘Older People’s Programme’, for a five-year contract worth between £140m and £160m per year.
The CCG said it was ambivalent whether NHS or private providers won the contract, which the Guardian reports exceeds the current most valuable private contract, worth £450m for Virgin Care to provide a range of NHS services across Surrey.
Andy Vowles, the CCG’s chief operating officer, told the Guardian. ‘What drives our GPs [on the CCG’s board] is what’s best for their patients, who in this case are a vulnerable group. It’s not a political test as to whether it’s an NHS or independent sector organisation. We are open-minded.’
The programme ‘aims to design and buy-in health and social care services for a defined population of older or vulnerable patients’, the CCG says on its website.
A spokesperson added: ‘The CCG’s over-riding objective is to improve outcomes and service quality for older people. The current procurement will encourage existing and new providers to think about how they can better integrate services in order to keep people as well as possible.’
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘This is the most audacious sell-off to date and evidence of how, in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act, the scale and pace of NHS privatisation is ramping up.’
Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair, said: ‘The BMA remains concerned that large non-NHS providers, such as those organisations apparently interested in the older people’s care contract in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, could have an unfair advantage during the tendering process over smaller, less well-resourced competitors, especially those from the NHS.’