Is government cash for private ambulance crews being used to tempt them away from NHS?

Ambulances wait outside a hospital: do they all have patients inside, waiting for access to a hospital place? If so, does it matter whether the vehicle that brought them belongs to the NHS or a private firm?

The government is spending more than £1 million every week on private ambulance hire, it was revealed – on the day we were told millions were being wasted on pointless private health ventures.

Some might say, at least this is worthwhile expenditure. But is it?

The eye-watering expenditure, amounting to £167,000 a day or at least £61m a year, is a “short-term fix which benefits the pockets of private firms rather than finding a long-term solution to the crisis hitting services,” the public-sector union [Unison] stressed.

According to Unison’s analysis of official figures, North West Ambulance Service spent more than £15m in 2022 on private emergency services, while over the last financial year, South Central bosses forked out a whopping £19m.

More than a dozen private companies are being brought in to fill widening gaps in services and to meet response times amid overwhelming demand, it charged.

From the next line, I can’t tell whether the funding comes from the £10 billion the government has green-lit for spending on private companies to reduce the NHS patient backlog, or from another source:

The cash comes from one-off government “crisis management” payments that are not guaranteed from year to year, deterring some trusts from investing in their own additional NHS vehicles and staff because of the ongoing costs incurred.

But the next part is definitely a backwards step, if we’re ever to see the NHS climb out of the pit into which the Tories have thrown it:

Private companies are “capitalising on the crisis by tempting paramedics and other crew away from NHS work” with more lucrative contracts which may not include sick pay and pensions, Unison added.

In any event, there seems little point when private crews are left waiting outside hospitals as long as NHS crews because A&E departments are overloaded and a lack of anywhere for fit patients to go means they cannot be discharged.


Source: NHS spends £1m a week on private ambulance hire | Morning Star

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