current affairs

More evidence that private treatment centres are expensive

Further to my earlier mega-post on health privatisation which focussed primarily on the local Sussex Orthopaedic Treatment Centre, some more news has emerged about the true cost of these privately run NHS centres:

  • The Times reports on a study of hip operations sent to a treatment centre in Weston-super-Mare where two-thirds of operations showed poor surgical technique and 3 years since operation a whopping 18% had undergone or were waiting for a revision operation. The NHS-wide rate for such follow-up procedures is 0.9%. These revision operations are expensive, so on top of the treatment centres being more expensive per procedure, they are also costing taxpayers more due to the remedial work needed.
  • The Times also has a comment piece by Michael Bell, President of the British Orthopaedic Association, which is critical on the lack of data to monitor quality and the disjointed nature of treatment centre operations.

Using the private sector to provide frontline NHS services not only runs contrary to the principle of public service, but again and again is shown to provide worse value and worse quality. Neither Tories nor Labour seem able to see beyond their false sacred cow of private = efficient.

Of course private companies do provide value and quality, look at the Apple iPod, but it’s a completely different market and set of pressures to providing public services. Perhaps if we stopped this trend of calling citizens ‘customers’ we could reset the mindset which seems to want to turn everything into a business.