Orthopaedic patients in the UK will benefit from faster treatment and greater choice, it has been announced.
The Department of Health (DoH) has announced that three more Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) Schemes have been given the go ahead to provide over 1.5m contracted procedures and outpatient consultations, thanks to an investment of £385m over the next seven years.
Following a review of Phase 2 of the ISTC programme, two schemes in Greater Manchester and one in Hampshire have been approved by the DoH, bringing the total number of schemes in Phase 2 to ten – seven of which have already started services.
The DoH also confirmed that independent sector provision will in future be procured locally rather than centrally, and said that the three remaining schemes will be taken forward by the NHS to complete by the end of November.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw 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. One million procedures have now been carried out by a range of independent sector providers and these three new schemes alone will provide over 1.5m procedures to patients in Greater Manchester and Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
“We are committed to independent sector involvement in the NHS where it meets local needs, offers value for money and benefits local patients. It is right that in future the local NHS will commission independent sector providers, to ensure faster procurement of services that reflect local needs.”
The UK Government had announced last year that an Independent Sector Procurement Forum would advise the DoH and NHS on policies and practices related to local healthcare procurement. The first meeting of the Forum took place in April and provides an effective mechanism for independent and third sector providers to support and help improve effectiveness in local procurement.