Growing outsourcing of NHS-funded elective hip operations to private sectors

NHS hip operations

Outsourcing NHS hip operations to private sectors will result in risk selection and increasing inequalities in elective hip operations in England confirms a new study. A team of researchers from Queen Mary University in London and Newcastle University examined NHS- funded elective hip operations in England from a period of 2003/4 to 2012/13. The study drew attention to an increasing shift to private provisions from NHS providers.

A decline of 8.6% in NHS provision was observed with a 188% increase in private provisions between the timeframe of 2007-8 and 2012-13. “While inequalities did not increase overall during the study period, this was due to the protective and buffering effects of NHS provision, which remained the dominant provider. The situation is likely to be worse now,” reports Dr Shailen Sutaria from Queen Mary University of London.

It was observed that the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 placed duties on NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups. Moreover, variations in elective hip operations were recorded. This revealed that female and older patients were less likely to receive need relative treatment. It was found that private providers favored less extremes of age in comparison to NHS providers, as complex operations or associated comorbidities built higher possibilities among older groups, hence this group of population was excluded by private providers.

“In 2017, over one-third of NHS-funded elective hip operations were performed by the private sector. If the trends here continue, whereby private provision substitutes for NHS direct provision, with risk selection favouring less deprived patients, then widening inequalities are likely,” commented Professor Allyson Pollock, Director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University.

The results of this study have been published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.