Community nurses will increasingly find themselves working for private sector companies outside of national pay contracts during the next five years, market analysts have predicted.
Private sector domiciliary care companies are “well placed” to take over a “significant” part of NHS community nursing in the next five years, according to a report by Laing & Buisson, which provides analysis for private health firms and investors.
It forecasts the private sector could control £2bn of the £8.5bn spent annually on NHS community services by 2016. Domiciliary care companies are “well placed to establish a significant presence” in the community sector, it said, because they can potentially exploit the crossover between home based social care and community nursing.
Until recently, most primary care trusts have been unwilling to outsource core services like district nursing and health visiting to the private sector.
However, the transforming community services programme, which finished in March, has seen these services transferred to acute or mental health trusts, or set up as stand alone NHS organisations or not-for-profit social enterprise schemes. In some places, including Surrey and Suffolk, they have already been tendered out to the private sector.
The report forecasted a “wave of tenders” for NHS services when many current contracts come up for renewal in 2013-14, driven by the NHS’s need to make £20bn savings and the government’s desire to see closer integration of health and social care.
The report said: “There is a clear parallel between where community health services stand today and where social care services stood 20 years ago. In the two decades since, domiciliary social care services have effectively been privatised.”
It added: “Independent sector operators can be expected to take whatever opportunities they have to move away from Agenda for Change onto more flexible and lower cost pay, terms and conditions.”