Biggest NHS clinical contract goes to three private firms criticised for poor performance
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This week the Guardian published our research on the biggest clinical contract yet to be awarded out of the market driven NHS. It is worth a potential £780m to eleven private firms.

But amongst the winners of the award - to provide surgical and imaging services to the NHS, three names stand out. Circle, Care UK and Vanguard, have all been heavily criticised for the services that they are already providing to patients, so was this taken into account? As members of the public we have no idea what checks have been done on these companies. The tendering process is closed from our view, but from the outside it looks like reward for failure. It could certainly worry future patients. This award is more proof that privatisation is an everyday reality in the NHS, but surely planning our healthcare through the NHS, not the market, is a better way to give patients services that they can trust.

Not only is this award more proof that privatisation is an everyday reality in the NHS, it shows that planning our healthcare through the NHS, not the market, is the better way to give patients services that they can trust.

When things go wrong

In Somerset, dozens of people were left with impaired vision, pain and discomfort after undergoing operations provided by the private healthcare company Vanguard Healthcare under contract with Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. The hospital's contract with Vanguard Healthcare was terminated after four days when 30 patients, most elderly and frail, reported complications, including blurred vision, pain and swelling.

Circle could make up to Â£240m from the award for providing imaging services, such as scans and services within operating theatres. Circle pulled out of running Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire – the first NHS hospital to be run by a private company â€“ following the publication of a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the care patients were receiving at Hinchingbrooke.

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