Magazine article Public Finance

ISTC Decision 'Key to NHS Reforms'

Magazine article Public Finance

ISTC Decision 'Key to NHS Reforms'

Article excerpt

Next month's decision on seven planned NHS independent sector treatment centres will show whether the government is committed to reforming the service, the CBI said this week.

Ministers are due to decide whether to go ahead with the final seven second-wave ISTC contracts. The CBI business lobby is nervous as the Department of Health has cancelled 11 of the schemes in this wave, although a further nine have been given the green light.

Improving NHS performance and the expansion of Patient Choice from April, when patients can choose any provider for elective care that is willing to accept NHS tariffs, also raises questions about the need for ISTCs - which hold contracts to treat a specified number of patients.

The prime minister pledged 'deeper and wider reform' in his New Year's speech on health. The CBI insisted next month's decision will be the first test of that pledge.

CBI director of public services Neil Bentley said ISTCs were a success but the government had sent mixed signals about their future. This week's CBI report, ISTCs and the NHS: sticking plaster or reed reform? …

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