Magazine article Public Finance

Patients Slow to Take to Independent Centres

Magazine article Public Finance

Patients Slow to Take to Independent Centres

Article excerpt

The government awarded a contract for five more private sector treatment centres this week, despite anecdotal evidence that patients are unhappy with the initiative.

Health minister John Hutton awarded a five-year contract to Mercury Health to operate a network of five treatment centres in the south of England.

They will see 16,000 patients a year and offer a mix of diagnostic, ophthalmology and orthopaedic procedures. The company will receive a guaranteed £214m and the first centre is due to open next autumn.

'Thousands will have their operations more quickly as a result,' Hutton said.

Independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) are due to provide 250,000 operations per year for NHS patients and are a cornerstone of the government's policies of reducing waiting times and offering patient choice. …

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