NHS privatisation: People with learning disabilities to become a ‘commodity’ in a profit-fillled healthcare industry, finds study

People with learning disabilities have been turned into commodities in a healthcare industry driven by profits and generating millions of pounds a year, a study has claimed.

The report by the Centre for Disability Research (CeDR) at Lancaster University found that the Government spent £477m last year on keeping just 2,500 people with learning disabilities and autism in hospital, with more than half of those in beds provided by the private sector.

The report, called “A trade in people: The inpatient healthcare economy for people with learning disabilities and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder”, argues that the privatisation of the NHS encouraged the development of a healthcare economy, which sees growing numbers of private units opening and is turning people into “commodities and liabilities”.

Patients who have been in care for five years generate close to a million pounds in income and therefore substantial profit for private comapnies, while the number of such businesses is on the rise, the study shows.

“It is clear to us that the way in which the healthcare economy has been encouraged to develop by recent governments turns people into commodities and liabilities,” the report found.

The research, carried out by activist Mark Brown, Honorary Research Fellow at Lancaster University Elaine James and Professor Chris Hatton, also found the provision of private inpatient units was “driven by economic factors” such as the cost of housing.

Article from The Independent, 28 June 2017