Strategic Projects Team

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FirstAid.png This article is part of the Health Portal project of Spinwatch.

Strategic Projects Team was an organisation, founded in 2009, that worked inside the NHS often at the heart of many of the most controversial NHS privatisations. It was set up by senior NHS officials in the east of England, a 'pioneer region when it comes to private sector involvement in the NHS' and home to Andrew Lansley's Cambridge constituency.[1]


According to its website, SPT specialise in:

  • 'Competitive procurement
  • 'Re-design of patient pathways via an integrated care model
  • 'Change management
  • 'Service reconfiguration and integration
  • 'Trust development and culture change
  • 'Patient experience, feedback and customer service development
  • 'Stakeholder engagement, communications and marketing'[2]


The NHS in Staffordshire, Coventry and Warwickshire, Huddersfield, Cheshire and Cambridge & Peterborough have all employed SPT's services, with the latter spending £220,000 on the firm in 2013/14 to help it 'open up older people's services to the private sector'. Companies that bid for the contracts included: Circle, Capita, Care UK, UnitedHealth, Interserve and Virgin Care.[1]


In early 2013 the NHS organisation that established SPT was dissolved and SPT have been 'hosted' by another NHS organisation - ' the equally "commercially-minded" Greater East Midlands commissioning support unit (GEM)'. GEM appears to be similar to SPT with its chief executive claiming organisations like his can 'provide access to... a £70 billion market'. GEM is an organisation which provides services to the GP groups that hold most of the NHS budget, they compete with commercial operators such as Capita and a consortium led by UnitedHealth (that includes KPMG, CSC Computer Sciences, BT and others). However, UnitedHealth, KPMG, Capita, and GE Healthcare Finnamore are also 'strategic partners' of GEM, providing a range of commissioning services to GEM's GP clients.[1]


Failed projects

SPT were set up within the NHS to design the deal which turned Hinchingbrooke hospital private. The deal eventually led to Circle Holdings walking away from their 10-year-contract after just three years due to inspectors giving the hospital 'the worst rating of "caring" of any hospital in the country'.

On top of their failure in Hinchingbrooke, SPT have also unsuccessfully worked with George Elliot Hospital in Nuneaton and the Weston in Weston-super-Mare. The firm offered the two hospitals to companies such as Care UK and Circle, however then abandoned the sell-offs; and in George Eliot's case not before millions of pounds had been spent on administering the process.

The SPT were also behind the feedback service 'the friends and family test'. The service was designed by MacPherson and Dunn, and rolled out across the NHS at a huge cost, however has been slammed as 'inappropriate', 'unreliable' and 'highly questionable as a measure of patient experience'. They were also behind the 'beleaguered privatisation of pathology services'.

SPT have also intervened in hospitals, such as in Bedford, 'which has recently lost services to both Circle and US health giant, UnitedHealth'.[1]

Bidding process for privatisation

The SPT produced the 'Memorandum of 'Information'; a document which was leaked to OurNHS in March 2015. In this document it set out some of the details for the £687 million cancer care contract, including the strange decision that the contract's design, such as standards and targets, will be decided after the contract has been awarded. The drafted plans show a lack of accountability and have been described by the Kings Fund as a 'risk to take with taxpayers' money'.

The companies shortlisted for the cancer contract are UnitedHealth, Interserve and CSC Computer Sciences (which also appears to be a ‘supply chain partner’ of UnitedHealth).

SPT are also in charge of the bidding for a £535 palliative care contract and the same three companies are involved, along with Health Management Ltd (a subsidiary of US outsourcing firm, Maximus) and Virgin Care.

The danger with SPT having control over who wins the privatisation contracts is that not does it advise NHS colleagues, but it also 'works closely' with the healthcare marketplace.[1]

Leaked email

'In an emailed released under Freedom of Information (FOI) law, MacPherson casually asks a colleague in NHS HQ for "insight as to where we might do the most good during 14/15?", which suggests perhaps that SPT has little in the way of official remit.'[1]


Former people


Address: Freepost RSTB-UCAU-YSUY
The NHS Strategic Projects Team,
Victoria House
Capital Park
CB21 5XB
Phone: +44 (0)1223 596862



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Tamasin Cave The 'ninja' NHS privatisers you've never heard of... Spinwatch, 27 March 2015, accessed 23 April 2015.
  2. Strategic Projects Team About us, accessed 13 April 2015.
  3. Strategic Projects Team Profile directory, accessed 13 April 2015.