NHS Reliance on Private Care Providers for Mental Health Beds Raises Concerns

Topics covered: funding, health and social care, NHS

It appears that heavy reliance on private care providers by the NHS for mental health beds could have potentially catastrophic effects for patients.

Currently the NHS is paying £2bn per year to private hospitals because they do not have enough beds for mental health patients. Data also reveals that the independent sector receives 13.5% of £14.8bn that the NHS spends on mental health in England.

Further, it was found that just over 25% of non-NHS run psychiatric units for under 18s were rated as inadequate by the CQC. This has piqued concerns over the quality and safety of care provided in these services.

Many of the root causes of these problems are linked back to the lack of funding currently being experienced in the health and social care sector.

This is not to say that using private providers to meet these care needs is inherently bad. However, there is an evident lack of resources to allow the provision of safe and high quality care that these patients deserve.

While the government has promised £36bn to the health and social care sector, most of which is meant to go to the NHS, there is still uncertainty as to how this money will be used. What is clear is that health and social care providers everywhere are struggling to meet patient needs due to a lack of resources, namely, funding. Reliance on the private sector to help meet patient needs will not be sustainable. Additionally, it seems that the private care providers are no more prepared than the NHS due to the same funding issues.

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