In South Yorkshire, the first series of health services are due to be handed out to private companies under the “Any Qualified Provider” (AQP) programme, which was extended under the government’s Health and Social Care Act.
Under AQP providers of health services are approved for a particular treatment by Central Commissioning Groups and can then be chosen for treatment by a GP and patient.
The government has obliged local health commissioners to use AQP for a set number of services and by this mechanism is forcing through privatisation.
In South Yorkshire treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, some cardiology tests, and bowel examinations have gone out to tender and although the majority of approved services are NHS, private companies are included on the list. These services represent a small chunk of NHS resources in the area but this is the start of privatisation and fragmentation.
This is all despite the fact that the local commissioners have said they oppose the Act, and have not, to date, privatised any major services. The new CCG is also not contracting for any commissioning support from outside the NHS.
Far from being a clinically driven, locally accountable policy, the reforms are being driven by government with the aim of breaking up the NHS and opening the door to profit-driven provision.