In February, DHSC published its White Paper setting out some of the most sweeping organisational and procedural changes to the NHS since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and its so-called "Lansley reforms".

It was followed in July by the Health and Care Bill, which is currently at the Committee Stage in the Commons, having been through its 1st and 2nd reading and much debate has followed on the impact that these reforms will have across the NHS.

One area of debate - as it was in 2012 - has been the impact that the proposed reforms will have on the role of private providers in the NHS. Despite unwinding and reforming much of the 2012 Acts most keenly-debated provisions (such as the s75 competition provisions), many MPs have viewed the reforms as laying foundations for increased private provision.

  • Do these changes lead to long term privatisation of the NHS?
  • What role will private providers have in Integrated Care Boards?
  • Will the new NHS Provider Selection Regime increase or decrease the proportion of NHS services that are delivered by private providers?

This article, published by the Nuffield Trust, is a particularly balanced and concise summary of these key issues - and is certainly worth a few minutes of your time...

Will the new Health and Care Bill privatise the NHS? | The Nuffield Trust Dayan M and Buckingham H (2021) “Will the new Health and Care Bill privatise the NHS?”, Nuffield Trust

There is nothing in the Bill that would change the NHS from being a publicly funded service, free at the point of use except for existing charges for services like dentistry..... In reality the NHS has paid private providers to deliver free care ever since it was founded in 1948, with GPs, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists always being for-profit contractors.