New contracts offer continued choice of ‘planned care’ services
Local NHS patients will continue to have access to a wide choice of high-quality services for planned surgery such as hip operations, thanks to arrangements agreed by the region’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset CCGs have worked together to ensure that services previously delivered by the region’s Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) will continue to be available to local people when the local Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire ISTC contract expires at the end of October.
What are ISTCs?
ISTCs were originally established by the Department of Health to provide additional capacity in the local hospital system and give NHS patients a greater range of options for non-emergency surgery, diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments.
Locally, they have been provided by independent provider Care UK at Emersons Green, Cirencester and Devizes.
The CCGs have received positive feedback from patients on the services, and they have helped to provide extra capacity in the local health system.
Local CCGs were keen to ensure these services continued to be available to their residents after the contract expired and have worked together to identify and approve providers who can offer the services to patients.
CCGs will now observe a voluntary standstill period before entering into contracts with the following ‘qualified providers’:
- Care UK
- Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Independent Health Group
- New Medical Systems, trading as Newmedica
- Ramsay Health
From 2 November, patients will have the option of choosing these providers for their elective care, using the NHS e-Referral system available through their GP practice.
A key feature of the new local contracts for commissioners is that they carry no guarantee of income for providers, with their value ultimately depending on the number of patients who choose to use the services.
Payments will be set at the same price as activities in other NHS hospitals and according to national tariffs.
"These new local contracts are good news for patients and good news for the local NHS. For patients, they will help to ensure that people continue to have access to extra elective services, providing more choice and in the process ensuring that patients can be seen as quickly as possible."
- Dr Jonathan Hayes, Chair of NHS South Gloucestershire CCG
The contracts are also good news for the local NHS in that they deliver much-needed extra capacity, reducing some of the burden on local acute hospitals and doing so via locally-defined contracts that ensure the best possible value for money.
The providers will operate from facilities in Gloucestershire, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and other additional locations to be confirmed in due course.