The independent sector in health and social care in England in 2009 and prospects for the future

04 March 2010
This briefing provides an overview of the diverse non-NHS sector that is playing an increasingly important role in shaping and delivering health and social care in England. It provides a definition of the sector; basic facts about the range and extent of IS activity in health and social care in England; and a look forward at the sector and the implications for patients and nursing.
The RCN supports nurses who work both within and outside of the NHS and is not against the IS on ideological grounds. The RCN supports those employers who meet the RCN’s principles of:
  1. quality – which includes themes of safety, dignity and effectiveness
  2. accountability – including transparency and trust
  3. equality – which includes universality, equity and diversity
  4. partnership – including representation and collaborative decision making.
Good employers who support their nursing staff are also likely to deliver high quality safe health and social care.

The RCN also recognises the role of the IS in commissioning. However, commissioning is essentially a clinical activity and therefore requires extensive clinical involvement and leadership. Whilst we acknowledge that there are important skills that external consultancies can bring to the commissioning process we would not support the whole scale outsourcing of commissioning to non NHS bodies.

If you have any comments or wish to contribute further, please email

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