Magazine article Public Finance

ISTCs Threaten Hospitals' Viability, Say MPs

Magazine article Public Finance

ISTCs Threaten Hospitals' Viability, Say MPs

Article excerpt

The Department of Health has failed to prove that its policy of outsourcing half a million patients to private treatment centres provides value for the extra cost it entails, the Commons' health select committee has concluded.

The committee has also stated its concerns that the independent sector treatment centres programme will lead to the expensive closure of major hospitals. The MPs described the DoHs and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt's reasoning for the programme as 'difficult to understand'.

'The Department of Health and the secretary of state have, over the course of our inquiry, given answers which have shifted in both fact and emphasis as time has gone by,' they said in a report published on July 25.

Hewitt had admitted that a number of planned ISTCs were not needed as existing NHS facilities could now cope with the demand for elective operations such as hip replacements and cataract removal. However, the DoH still appeared committed to spending £550m a year on the programme, a decision the committee described as a 'profound incoherence'.

Going ahead with those schemes would mean ISTCs carried out almost 10% of total elective procedures in the NHS, detracting from potential revenue streams for NHS hospitals and centres. …

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