NHS spend on the private sector has increased by 7% in the last year, according to figures released today.
Total amount spent on purchasing healthcare from independent sector providers was £6,913m in 2014/15, compared with £6,467m in 2013/14, according to the Department of Health annual accounts.
Total spend on GP contracts increased by 1.2% in the same time period, from £7,553m to £7,646m. However this followed a decrease the previous year by 2.3%.
Also according to the accounts, NHS England underspent its revenue budget by £375m in 2014/15. However, the DH overall reduced its underspend (combined revenue and capital budgets) to just £173m, having famously handed £2.2bn worth of underspand back to the Treasury two years ago.
Spend with private providers increased in 2013/14 also, but at the time the DH denied a union claim that this meant it was ‘privatising’ healthcare in England.
Commenting on the accounts, DH permanent secretary Dame Una O’Brien said 2014/15 ‘continued to be challenging for the Department and for the NHS’ and highlighted its achievement in ‘sustaining the continuity of NHS services, achieving overall financial performance and budgetary control in the face of increasing pressures, and planning for the future and the forthcoming spending review’.