All English residents are automatically entitled to free public health care through the National Health Service, which includes hospital, medical and mental health care. Most healthcare in Northern Ireland is provided by Health and Social Care Northern Ireland. Collaboration between the NHS and the private sector would provide a better health service than if they remained isolated. Approximately a quarter of NHS-funded hospital mental health services are provided by the private sector.
Public sector organisations can improve absenteeism and increase productivity with a UK Healthcare corporate health plan. This knowledge is very useful in advising private facilities on the interpretation and application of health legislation. There have been some recent examples where unused private sector capacity has been used to increase NHS capacity and, in some cases, the NHS has commissioned the private sector to establish and expand new facilities on an outsourced basis. Health in the UK is a devolved matter, with England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales having their own public health systems, funded by and accountable to separate governments and parliaments, alongside a smaller private and voluntary sector provision.
At first glance, it may seem that they should go hand in hand, but especially in a system as complex as healthcare, patients often do not know what to expect in terms of level of care. Most healthcare in Scotland is provided by NHS Scotland; the current national system of publicly funded healthcare was created in 1948 at the same time as those in Northern Ireland and England and Wales, incorporating and extending services already provided by local and national authorities, as well as private and charitable institutions. The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England, including primary care, hospital care, long-term care, ophthalmology and dentistry. The structured health insurance industry initially developed between 1940 and 1947 with the creation of the London-based Hospital Service Scheme (now PPP Healthcare) and the merger of several regional schemes into the British United Provident Association (BUPA).