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GPs accused of blocking ISTCs

By Gareth Iacobucci

The CBI has accused GPs of deliberately blocking patients from choosing Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs), and has called on the Government to offer incentives to encourage referrals to the controversial centres.

The Government recently announced a substantial scaling down of the private provider centres, after admitting that they were not providing value for money. A decision is due next month on whether seven new centres will go ahead.

However, in a report this week the CBI praised the centres as a ‘success story', and urged the Government not to go cold on its reform agenda.

The report said: ‘Some GPs and PCT commissioners are blocking patients from choosing the centres by not offering the appropriate information, fearing that their established ways of working will be threatened'.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI director of public services, said: ‘ISTCs are an NHS success story. They were created to find new ways of doing things and challenge a state monopoly that has sometimes struggled to improve services despite massive spending increases.

‘But the Government has sent mixed signals as to whether it thinks such a challenge is still necessary. The forthcoming decision on ISTCs will send a very clear message about the future role for independent providers.'

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