Health Boards see dramatic increase on private healthcare funding

Plaid calls out the Welsh Government for their “policy of privatisation”

There has been a dramatic increase in the amount Health Boards have spent on outsourcing to private sector healthcare providers.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price criticised the Labour Welsh government for having a “policy of privatisation” intended to mask long terms structural problems within the Welsh NHS.

Annual reports from each Health Board in Wales shows that spending has increased throughout Wales from £13m in 2010/11 to £38m in 2017/18 – an increase of 260% in just seven years.

Raising the figures today during FMQs by leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price AM said,

“It’s well established that the government’s record on NHS waiting times is far from satisfactory. The Auditor General recently reported a 55% growth since 2015 in the number of patients whose follow up appointments is delayed twice as long as they should be. Targets are currently being met in radiology because Health Boards are increasingly outsourced to the private sector.

“The Auditor General’s reports notes that waiting times performance has been helped by securing additional capacity from the private sector in response to what he describes as difficulties with recruitment, retention of staff, outdated and insufficient scanning equipment, along IT weaknesses within the NHS.  Isn’t this a policy of privatisation by stealth as a sticking plaster to mask long terms structural problems within the Welsh NHS?

“A sustainable NHS requires long term planning, training the workforce and buying the equipment needed so you have capacity to meet demands in the future. The policy of the Welsh government when Carwyn Jones first became First Minister was to phase out the use of the private sector completely by 2011 but spending on use of the private sector has gone up substantially on your Government’s watch. In 2011, it was £14m. Last year it was £38m. That’s a 260% increase in spending on private sector outsourcing in seven years.

“The Labour party in England under Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the use of private sector provision in the NHS. Isn’t this yet another case of Labour saying one thing in opposition at Westminster and doing the opposite in Government here in Wales? But Jeremy Corbyn aside, aren’t you reneging on Bevan’s vision and your own values?”

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM: “The dramatic rise in Betsi Cadwaladr’s funding for private providers is a matter for concern – up from £173,000 in 2010-11 to £2,970,000 last year. The direction of travel is clear and ominous as our overstretched NHS continues to be hollowed out by a combination of Tory cuts and Labour mismanagement.”

In response, the Leader of the House, Julie James AM, admitted private sector providers were used in the short term “to fill off service difficulties”,

“Clearly, we have to arrange for services to be delivered in the best possible fashion. Where possible we deliver it by public sector free at the point of delivery but clearly there are some instances where we have to use private sector providers in the short term in order to make sure the service is delivered.”

Figures on spending by private providers


Board 2010-11 2015-16 2016/17 2017/18
Betsi 173k 1.416m 5.177m 2.970m
Powys 238k 1.827m 1.793m 1.164m
HDDa 2.677m 4.044m 4,448,000 6,430,000
ABMU 232k 5.562m 8.155m 5.364m
Cwm Taf 3.280m 4.661m 3.426m 7.667m
Cardiff and Vale 6.253m 9.314m 9.121m 12.654m
Aneurin Bevan 940k 3.258m 6.935m 2.229m
All Wales 13.793m 30.082m 39.055m 38.478m

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