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Private firms enlisted to cut waiting lists for tests and surgery in £780m contract

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1465 (Published 13 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1465
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Private firms have reached a deal potentially worth £780m (€1.1bn; $1.2bn) over four years to help NHS hospitals in England ease waiting times for surgery and diagnostic tests.

Critics have warned that the new national framework agreement to provide mainly mobile clinical services such as operating theatres, imaging, and ultrasonography marked an “expansion” of the private sector in the NHS.

The 11 for-profit firms in the agreement include Circle and Care UK, which have faced criticism by the Care Quality Commission.

Eric Watts, chairman of the anti-marketisation pressure group Doctors for the NHS, said, “This is another example of using the private sector for a short term fix whereas the sensible solution would be investment to ensure we have sufficient capacity to treat people in well run, purpose built hospitals.”

But David Hare, chief executive of the NHS Partners Network, which represents private firms …

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