The NHS is something we can all be proud of. It's founding vision promised to provide healthcare to all, regardless of their ability to pay. However, for a long time, private companies have been creeping through the back door to provide services through the NHS. Contracts to private NHS providers fail often and, when they do, patients are put at risk and the NHS has to foot the bill. 

There are hundreds of private companies in the NHS, and we'd never be able to fit them all into one page. We've included some of the bigger construction and facilities companies, and the healthcare companies who have run NHS hospitals or provide large scale NHS services, but this is by no means a complete list.

Read more about privatisation of the NHS and what we're doing to stop it here.

Private Ambulance Service has 126 ambulances, and has contracts with the NHS and other, private health organisations. It has been described as delivering an 'abysmal' service by Unison, with patients being left for hours at home or in hospital.

It was issued a 'winding up' notice by Inland Revenue on the 29th of September 2017. NHS ambulance providers are working to bring the staff in-house and continue the service - picking up the pieces of another failure of privatisation.


Care UK provides healthcare and residential care. The company’s services include treatment centres, GP practices, walk-in centres, out-of-hours GP support and diagnostics facilities. Care UK also provides healthcare at a number of prisons, and runs 110 care homes across the UK.

Care UK bought Harmoni in November 2012, which provides out of hours GP care, 111 telephone services, offender healthcare, urgent care and IT services. 

In early 2017, Care UK reported that it is the largest provider of health care services in prisons and secure facilities. It also provides over 60 NHS primary care services, including GP and walk-in services, 11 NHS out of hours services, and 13 NHS '111' services.

Care UK is ultimately owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital. 


Circle is a healthcare company based in Britain, co-founded in 2004 by ex-investment banker Ali Parsa and Consultant Ophthalmologist Massoud Fouladi. It runs hospitals in Bath, Reading and Nottingham which provide care under the NHS. In November 2011, it was awarded a contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital as an NHS hospital franchised to an independent provider. Since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into force, Circle has been the biggest private sector winner from the 195 contracts awarded so far.

Circle was listed on the London Stock Exchange until March 2017, when it was bought in full by Toscafund Asset Management.

Virgin Care is a private provider of services to the National Health Service in England. It owns 24 GP-led provider companies that provide NHS services through networks of GP surgeries; and community-based NHS services

Virgin Care is a private provider of services to the National Health Service in England. It owns 24 GP-led provider companies that provide NHS services through networks of GP surgeries; and community-based NHS services


Serco is a multinational outsourcing company that provides outsourced public services and security services. In the UK, Serco operates in a number sectors of public service provision:

  • Health services, including NHS and GP services
  • Transport, including train services on Merseyside and the north of England, in partnership with Abellio
  • Prisons and justice, where it was banned from further government contracts after overcharging on electronic tagging contracts
  • Immigration and border control, including the infamous Yarl's Wood detention centre
  • Defence, mainly maintenance contracts.​
  • Shared and back-office services for local councils

Serco is a UK-based plc that is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


Capita is a plc listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its major shareholders are mostly investment and asset management funds.

Capita is a multinational outsourcing and business services company, based in London. It is one of the largest outsourcing companies in the UK, and is contracted to provide public services in a huge variety of areas, including local government, the NHS, central government, defence, justice services, some emergency services and others.

Capita's entanglement with private companies and local and central government is extensive; their latest annual report boasts that the company is 'systemically important to the UK economy'. They have an estimated 41% of the £4bn-a-year public sector outsourcing market. They are currently entirely responsible for the NHS's Primary Care Support service, (PCSE), which has been heavily criticised by GPs for being chaotic and dangerous for patients.

Capita is a plc listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its major shareholders are mostly investment and asset management funds. 

Cygnet Health Care is a commercial provider of mental health services which operates 21 centres with more than 1,000 beds across the UK.

Concerns have been raised about both patient safety and their near monopoly on adult mental health services in parts of the UK. 

Arriva was taken over in 2010 by Deutsche Bahn, the German state-owned rail and transport company. It is a multinational transport company, with its headquarters in Sunderland and was established in the 1930s. It is divided into three main components - mainland Europe, UK Trains and UK Bus.

​Arriva UK Bus operates nearly 6,000 buses in the UK.  

Arriva UK Trains runs Arriva Trains Wales (franchise due for renewal in 2018), Northern Rail, which operates train services across the North of England (franchise due for renewal in 2025), and CrossCountry, which operates long-distance and inter-city rail services throughout the country, including UK's longest direct rail service from Aberdeen to Penzance.

Arriva also provides ambulance services in parts of the UK. 

They have come under investigation from the Competition and Markets Authority because of their near-monopolistic hold on bus and train services in the north of England, and have been accused of abandoning passengers by hiking fares and cancelling services.


Balfour Beatty is the largest contributor to a building and facilities management consortium, Consort Healthcare, which has built (and maintains) hospitals in Edinburgh, Durham, and Birmingham under controversial and long-term PFI deals. 

Consort earns £60m a year for running, cleaning and maintaining Edinburgh Royal Infirmary alone, under a contract estimated to be worth £1.26bn by 2028. Under the terms of the PFI deal, agreed in 1997, Consort will still own the building when that contract ends, forcing the NHS either to buy the building, sign a new lease or leave.



Carillion plc is a British multinational facilities management and construction services company headquartered in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

It has dozens of subsidiary companies, a few of which are involved in NHS service provision. The most notorious is Clinicenta, who ran a hospital in Stevenage, and had their license revoked by the Care Quality Commission in 2013 after failing to provide a safe level of care to patients.

Have you seen a story of privatisation failing? Email us the link at info@weownit.org.uk and we'll add it to the list!