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Bradshaw calls for PCTs to speed up private sector procurement

By Lilian Anekwe

The Government has urged health chiefs to speed up the already prolific expansion of private sector involvement in providing health services, saying that it will widen patient choice and lead to faster treatment.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw confirmed that the future procurement of private firms would be entirely down to PCTs, after the Government gave the go ahead for the latest phase in its controversial Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) programme, despite huge opposition and delays.

Mr Bradshaw, who has previously sought to play down GP fears over the increasing role of the private sector, said: ‘The independent sector is providing NHS patients with fast access to high quality treatment and diagnostic services, offering greater choice, driving down waiting times and galvanising the NHS to raise its game.

‘It is right that in future the local NHS will commission independent sector providers, to ensure faster procurement of services that reflect local needs."

His endorsement of the private sector came as the Government approved ISTC schemes in Greater Manchester, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, despite staunch opposition from the BMA, who claims they destabilise local NHS services and are no cost-effective.

PCTs are currently embarking on massive procurement projects to provide 152 new polyclinics and 100 new GP surgeries under APMS, with a long list of private providers queuing up to take part in tenders, which are set to be signed off by the end of the year.

Ben Bradshaw: wants PCTs to speed up procurement of private companies Ben Bradshaw: wants PCTs to speed up procurement of private companies

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