Not content with just nuking the NHS – so last year, my dear – it now appears that Lang-Ho and the Con-Doms – fresh from turning a blind eye to city bonuses – are lining up to offer their private healthcare pals an eye-watering billion dollar bung to ‘ease’ their entry into the post-NHS healthcare market.
The proposals – buried deep in last week’s Health and Social Care Bill Impact Assessment – have arisen because a management consultant (KPMG) report estimates that Lang-Ho’s non-NHS provider buddies are at a financial disadvantage compared to NHS providers:
“A recent study of fair playing field distortions was able to quantify the impact of some of the distortions identified. The majority of the quantifiable distortions work in favour of NHS organisations; tax, capital and pensions distortions result in a private sector acute provider facing costs about £14 higher for every £100 of cost relative to an NHS acute provider.” (Para B55).
The Impact Assessment goes on to suggest a need (amongst other things) for :
“A better understanding of how costs vary as a result of provider type and action to make the playing field fairer” (Para B59)
and then we have (under proposing/implementing recommended solutions):
“Once the net distortion facing different provider types is better understood, the tariff methodology could be developed in such a way as to move towards a fairer playing field by setting different prices for different providers in order to recognise different levels of implicit subsidies.” (Para B108)
‘Action to make the playing field fairer’; ‘tariff…developed in such a way as to move towards a fairer playing field by setting different prices for different providers’ – strip out the management mumbo jumbo, and what we have here is a naked ambition to pay non-NHS providers – including multinational for profit providers – more to provide the same care, to ‘level the playing field’. Never have the playing fields of Eton been fairer – or richer…
£14 higher for every £100 may not sound very much, but given an overall NHS budget of £105 billion (2010-11), and some 5% of that (£5.25 billion) going to non-NHS providers – including multinational for profit providers – a £14-in-every-£100 (ie a 14%) uplift of that £5.25 billion works our at a cool £735 million. And since many of these multi-national private providers are US based, we might usefully quote the cost in dollars – a cool $1.17 billion at today’s exchange rate.
And so there we have it – a billion dollar bung set to go into non-NHS provider coffers. Nod or wink – that sure is some bung!