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Study Finds Health Outsourcing to Private For-Profit Sector Linked to Higher Mortality Rates

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Treatable mortality is linked to an increase in outsourcing of health services to the private for-profit sector, according to a new study by Department of Social Policy and Intervention researchers published in the Lancet Public Health.  The study found, since 2014, out-sourcing has been associated with an additional 557 deaths across 173 of England’s clinical commissioning groups.

According to the peer-reviewed study, out-sourcing to for-profit companies consistently increased between 2013 and 2020, corresponding ‘with significantly increased rates of treatable mortality, potentially as a result of a decline in the quality of health-care services’. This study represents the first attempts to measure the total impact of for-profit outsourcing from England’s NHS on health outcomes.

According to the study, outsourcing could lead to increased mortality in two ways:

  • Private providers could be ‘delivering worse quality care’…although recent evidence finds no difference in death rates from surgeries in private settings; or
  • Outsourcing leads to intensified pressure across the health system.

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