UK Politics

Reality Check: Has private contracting in the NHS doubled?

Owen Smith saying: It's gone up from £4bn at the tail-end of the last Labour government, now to £8bn - it doubled.

The claim: The use of private contractors in the NHS has doubled since the end of the last Labour government.

Reality Check verdict: In cash terms, the amount of money has indeed doubled. Although, as a proportion of NHS spending, it has not.

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith gave a speech in Salford on Monday, criticising the government's record on the NHS.

"They've started spending more money in private provision in the NHS than ever before," he said.

"It's gone up from £4bn at the tail-end of the last Labour government, now to £8bn - it doubled."

It is certainly true to say the proportion of NHS money going to private providers has been rising.

In 2009-10, 4.4% of NHS spending in England went to the private sector, according to a parliamentary answer.

NHS spending that year was £98.4bn, which means about £4.3bn went to private providers.

The figure Mr Smith gives is for 2014-15, when the figure was £8.1bn, which was 7.3% of NHS spending (although the government previously gave a figure of 6.3%).

We have now had the figures for 2015-16, when £8.7bn went to private providers, which was 7.6% of the total.

So, in cash terms the amount of money has indeed doubled. Although, as a proportion of NHS spending, it has not.

Another criticism of the Conservatives from Mr Smith was: "The reality is they have cut the funding to the NHS. NHS spending as a proportion of GDP has dropped in every year under the Tories."

GDP stands for gross domestic product and is a measure of all the goods and services provided by an economy.

While NHS spending has been going up in cash terms, it is not keeping pace with the growth of the economy, meaning spending as a share of GDP has indeed not been going up.

Spending as a share of GDP is a commonly recognised measure of a country's investment in its citizens' health, and is used to make international comparisons.

There was a steady increase in spending as a percentage of national income from 1992-93 until 2009-10.

Since then, it has either fallen or remained static every year until 2014-15. Although, there was a 0.1 percentage points increase in 2015-16.



More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites