Covid-19 use of private hospitals during pandemic: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

In reference to previous request 202000089703, please can I request the following information about the Scottish Government’s national use of private sector hospitals during the pandemic. I accept that some NHS boards procure some activity independently but I am only interested in the national programme overseen by the Scottish Government.

I am interested in information from the start of October 2020 to present. Please could the information be provided in the same format as response 202000089703. I accept that some numbers of operations where they consist of very low numbers will have to be redacted due to the risk of personal information.

Please could you provide me with:
1. A breakdown of the total activity at private hospitals on behalf of the NHS, including outpatient appointments and procedures. For procedures, please provide a breakdown of what these were.

2. Please could you provide a breakdown of activity by each private hospital involved in the initiative.

3. Please could you provide a breakdown of the activity by each health board involved in the initiative.

4. Please could you provide the total cost of these procedures, broken down by each private health company.


In accordance with section 21(4) of FOISA, I have also reached a decision on your request.

I can now provide our response to your original request.

Firstly let me apologise for the delay in providing a reply to your enquire. As I am sure you appreciate the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the Scottish Government receiving an unprecedented level of correspondence and despite officials’ best efforts some delays have inevitably occurred in progressing this response. We have also experienced a number of staff changes over recent months that have compounded our ability to provide you with a timeous response.

Details of the total activity undertaken at private hospitals on behalf of NHS Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic between the start of October 2020 to the end of March 2021 is set out in the tables in the Annex. Surgical daycases are presented in Table 1, surgical inpatient procedures in Table 2 and Radiology procedures in Table 3. A breakdown of surgical procedures by speciality type is presented in Table 4 and Radiology procedures by modality in Table 5. The breakdown of this information by Private Hospital and NHS Board can also be found in Tables 1, 2 and 3 for outpatients and surgical procedures and Radiology procedures respectively.

You will wish to note that some of the details you have requested consist of very low numbers. In these circumstances and in light of the risk of identification of the individuals concerned, an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies as disclosing these details would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing these details. The following tables have been adjusted to remove these details.

In answer to the fourth point of your query, please find in Table 7 a breakdown of the total costs of procedures conducted on behalf of NHS Scotland at private health companies facilities in fulfilment of the of the national programme between October 2020 and March 2021. In the interests of transparency I have also outlined in Table 6 the costs of procedures conducted during the period March 2020 to September 2020. You will note that these figures vary slightly from those provide in my  pervious response 202000089703. The reason for this variation is due to the finalisation of costings between the private heath companies and NHS National Service Scotland (NHS NSS) who managed national procurement. Previously stated figures were based on funding allocated to NHS NSS by the Scottish Government taking account of projected activity. No funding was released to any private health companies prior to confirmation of actual activity undertaken.

Finally in Table 8 I have laid out a breakdown of the total costs of procedures on behalf of NHS Scotland at private health companies facilities in fulfilment of the national programme between March 2020 and March 2021. These figures take into account any variation as described above and provide an accurate costing to end of March 2021 for any such activity.

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FOI202100201947 - Annex


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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