New report on huge profits raked in by five of UK’s top healthcare privateers

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A new report reveals huge profits raked in by five of the UK’s top healthcare privateers. The report is written by friends of Keep Our NHS Public, Corporate Watch. It was released earlier this week and uncovers the extent of the profits made by private UK healthcare providers.
It is reproduced here. For more information on their activities, please visit the Corporate Watch website.

KONP has been campaigning against the privatisation of the NHS since 2005. For more information on our related activities please click here.

You can also research and explore private contracts in your area by using our ICB and Trust Spending databases to track your local details here, where there is information and a guide on how to use it.

As the Conservative government continues to accelerate its relentless carve-up of the UK’s National Health Service, a new report reveals how five healthcare giants have profited from a share of public contracts worth at least £70 billion.

Corporate Watch, a cooperative grassroots organisation that produces in-depth research on corporate power, has published a new report in conjunction with Good Jobs First. Our three-part investigation delves into government procurement data to expose how much just five private healthcare giants have profited from the ongoing decimation of the NHS.

The new study shows how:

  • Since 2013, Bridgepoint, BUPA, Centene, Spire and UnitedHealth have been awarded shares of public health and social care contracts worth a minimum of £70.59bn. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first detailed data investigation into these five healthcare giants and their subsidiaries.
  • This is despite the fact these firms have been implicated in a litany of scandals and controversies. From lethal violations of patient and worker safety regulations here in the UK to horrifying cases of neglect in Australia and multi-billion-dollar frauds in the US, the track records of these companies are truly alarming.
  • The length of awarded contracts appears to be increasing year-on-year, as the Conservatives have sought to ‘lock in’ privatisation for the future.
  • All the companies we investigated show patterns of ‘horse-trading’ in their handling of assets in the healthcare sector. This is a ‘churn-and-burn’ business strategy that seems to prize short-term profit above stable and sustainable provision of services.
  • We discovered worrying gaps in publicly available data. At least 20% of tenders examined for this report didn’t record a total final value for the contract. This raises important questions about scrutinising government spending.

Corporate Watch targeted these firms because of their ties to the Elective Recovery Taskforce – an initiative launched by the Sunak administration in December 2022. It effectively ‘turbo-charged’ the provision of public health services through private providers in the UK.

It’s important to remember this is only the latest instalment of a privatisation drive now stretching back decades – so we’ve also released a timeline chronicling political developments from more than 75 years of NHS history to explain how we got to where we are today.

A Corporate Watch spokesperson said:

“Year after year, billions and billions of UK taxpayer money has been bled directly into the pockets of politically connected healthcare giants, without so much as blinking at their history of defrauding governments, abusing society’s most vulnerable, and exposing employees to unsafe and even life-threatening work conditions.

“Evidence suggests privatisation does virtually nothing to benefit the NHS or its patients. Based on just five companies, our findings represent only the tip of an exceptionally dirty iceberg, while the immense gaps we uncovered in the data expose the Conservative administration as a government woefully shy of public scrutiny, and wilfully blind to the stark and deplorable reality their healthcare policies have helped create.”

A spokesperson for Good Jobs First said: “Patient care and value for money should be at the heart of NHS contracting. Violation Tracker UK and US make it possible to check a company’s track record so that authorities can make better procurement decisions.”

Links to the 3-part Corporate Watch investigation

The National Wealth Service: Privatisation Profiteers

The National Wealth Service: Players and Scandals

The National Wealth Service: NHS privatisation timeline



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1 Comment

  1. Vitality health and life insurance have been advertising since 4 Olympic Games. They are a South African company Discvery, who own not billions but trillions. Surely a responsible company should be using this money to help people be healthy or get better not hoarding loads of cash. They sponsor loads of football teams, rugby and netball, they are everywhere and obviously have been given the nod that they will be in the frame when OUR NHS is dismantled. The NHS belongs to us and there would have to be a vote or referendum if that situation is to change.

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