How private firms take unfair advantage over the public sector to get government contracts

This piece reports the attempt by the MP, Grahame Morris, to introduce a bill forcing the private companies bidding for NHS services to be liable to the same level of accountability and transparency as the public sector hospitals and institutions these seek to supplant. At the moment these companies are using the Freedom of Information Act to undermine the NHS by undercutting them. Yet the same companies prevent anyone from scrutinising their record for care and quality under the pretext of ‘commercial confidentiality’. It is vitally necessary that these companies should provide the same information as the state-owned NHS institutions, as many of the companies competing for services, such as Serco and G4S have been caught committing fraud. HCA, the giant healthcare company that has one the government contract to provide treatment for those suffering from brain tumours, has had to pay$2 billion in fines, costs and damages in America for defrauding federal healthcare programmes. Morris’ bill is an excellent one, but it is a private members’ bill which, if past experience is any guide, will be filibustered out of time by the government when it comes to be debated.

Mike Sivier's blog

Did you know that £1 in every £3 spent by the government goes to an independent or private-sector service provider?

If you also recall government ministers bemoaning the fact that £1 in every £4 spent by the government was borrowed, as they said very often during the first year or so of the Coalition, and you bear in mind the fact that all private companies must make a profit, you’ll come to a fairly damning conclusion.

Did you know, also, that private companies – while free to hide behind commercial confidentiality regarding the conditions under which billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are awarded to them in government contracts – may use Freedom of Information requests to gain detailed information about public sector organisations and then use that knowledge to undercut or outbid those bodies when government contracts are tendered or put up for renewal?

FoI regulations give private providers…

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