A recent BBC report revealed that almost 70% of contracts awarded for NHS services in England between April and December 2013 were given to private firms.

The reported figures come from the NHS Support Federation, a pressure group that campaigns in support of the NHS.

The Federation claims that only 15 of the 57 contracts awarded last year went to the NHS, with private companies taking the lion’s share of 39 contracts. One contract was shared between the NHS and a non-NHS supplier and two went to charities.

The value of contracts awarded between April and December last year stood at £510m, of which, £450m were given to non-NHS suppliers.

Under NHS reforms, commercial companies can tender to provide a range of clinical services from out-of-hours care to bloods tests, scans and X-rays.

Linda Millband, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Handing health contracts to private suppliers does not necessarily mean that patients get a higher standard of service.

“The government should balance money saving with ultimate quality control measure. When 70% of contracts are being awarded to private firms we need to be careful we don’t sleepwalk into a privatised NHS. Patients want to know who is treating them.

“Perhaps the government should look at investing the money spent on the tendering process, which can stretch into six figures, and use it to invest in the front line services that will help to create a more effective and efficient health service and not put patients at risk of clinical negligence such as that suffered by our clients treated at Spire Healthcare by Mr Paterson."