NHS spending on private or independent providers increased from £8.4 billion in 2013-14 to £13.8 billion in 2020-21. The UK spent a total of £125 billion on non-NHS providers since 2012-13.

Our NHS has been privatised in many different ways:

  • In 1990 an internal market was established in the NHS - decision making about services was separated out from providing care (known as the 'purchaser-provider split'). It's estimated that the additional administration involved costs the NHS at least £4.5 billion a year.
  • Locally, NHS Trusts outsource contracts to private companies because the 2012 Health and Social Care Act opened up the NHS to external competition. Oxford University research suggests there have been 557 excess deaths because of outsourcing.
  • Nationally, NHS England also outsources work to private companies, for example the failed Test and Trace contract during the pandemic which cost £33 billion.
  • Underfunding of the NHS (the UK spends £40 billion less a year than comparable European countries) means waiting lists are longer than they should be and some people pay to go private if they can afford it.
  • Many NHS Trusts have to waste money on bad value Private Finance Initiative deals set up years ago to build hospitals. 

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

Read about some of the private companies involved below.

  • Spire Healthcare logo
  • Sciensus
  • Centene logo - 90s font text
  • Palantir logo - the text with a circle and arrow sign
  • Deloitte logo
  • Unipart logo

Spire Healthcare generated about 30% of its revenues from contracts with the NHS in 2021. The largest single shareholder is Mediclinic International Plc, a multi-national private hospital group listed on the South African securities exchange.  


Optum is a subsidiary of the American company UnitedHealth Group, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and mostly owned by institutional investors.


Deloitte is one the world’s big four multinational accountancy/consultancy groups. It is a UK private company limited by guarantee.


Serco is a multinational outsourcing company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Its biggest shareholders are investment and asset management firms.


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