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Ministers have held no such discussions. The procurement of local health services by means of competitive tendering is a matter for the local clinical commissioning group, rather than for Ministers. Greenwich clinical commissioning group is an independent statutory organisation and is responsible for commissioning services for local people in order to ensure the best possible clinical outcomes at the best value to the taxpayers, who are the hon. Gentleman’s constituents.
That is an incredibly complacent response. The cost of the contract, which was allocated to a private provider, has gone up by 14% in six months. It claimed at the Greenwich Overview and Scrutiny Committee that that was due to a 14% increase in the tariff costs of health services, but my local health care trust says that that is about 0.6%. How does the Minister explain that increase and why is the Department not looking into these private companies, which are literally naming their price once they have won the contract?
It is not a complacent answer; it is a factual one. That is an important point to make. The Circle contract has been uplifted by approximately £10 million because of the increases in tariff costs, as the hon. Gentleman rightly says. That increase would have been applied to any provider, not just Circle. I am sorry that he does not support the new MS services across his constituency. My understanding is that, previously, those services were delivered by a number of different providers, with a wide variation in clinical outcomes for his constituents, in costs of care and in-patient experience. This is a step forward.