Times investigation suggests businesses are charging NHS millions of pounds for sub-standard mental health services

An investigation by The Times newspaper has suggested that companies are charging the NHS millions of pounds for in-patient care which is ‘sometimes sub-standard’ and which fails to provide ‘adequate or safe care’.

The investigation finds that patients are sometimes hospitalised against their will, and sometimes for many years, in units which do not meet the required standards.

Sir Stephen Bubb conducted the inquiry after a case at Winterbourne View Hospital in 2011 where staff were found to be abusing patients. He commented: “It’s truly shocking that private providers are cashing in on substandard care, paying themselves liberally on money from our NHS. These institutions should be closing, not expanding. Profiting from our most vulnerable citizens leaves a bad taste.”

Elin Jones, Chair of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “It’s appalling that some psychiatric hospitals run by private companies are not meeting the required standards of care despite charging up to £13,000 a week. Our Members are horrified that the NHS’s precious budget is being ploughed into extortionate services which clearly don’t meet patients’ needs.

“In 2017 Hafal opened a user-led in-patient centre which has won an international award for best practice due to its innovative approach and high standards of care. It’s a very reasonably-priced service which is ambitious for its patients and doesn’t maintain them in their condition for the sake of income. And yet we have empty beds, despite having called on the Welsh Government to explain why NHS patients are not being referred to the service. How can this be right?

“The Times noted that one hospital providing sub-standard care was found to have paid almost £25million into a secretive trust in Belize. We call upon the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services to tell us whether the Welsh Government is paying into these tax havens as opposed to Welsh services.”