Private companies should not commission NHS services

Commissioning of NHS services must remain a core function of the NHS and not be contracted out to private providers, the government was warned today.

Government plans to change how NHS services are commissioned will only succeed if there is proper clinical engagement in both primary and secondary care, and a meaningful dialogue with patients, the BMA says in its response to the DoH’s commissioning framework for England. 

The BMA has produced its own set of principles to be implemented as the role of commissioning develops. These include promoting clinical engagement and cross-sector collaboration, a balance between cost-effectiveness and quality, effective dialogue with patients and the public, and the development of information systems.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee said: ‘There is a risk that commercial provider organisations, if also given a commissioning function, will commission work for themselves and benefit from the profits, putting at risk the overarching ethos and ethics of a publicly funded health service.

‘NHS commissioning which is led by clinicians, working together across primary and secondary care, will ensure decisions on health services best meet the needs of patients.’

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