Independent Sector Treatment Centres – Then, now and tomorrow?
The issue of NHS outsourcing has dominated recent healthcare news, but it is hardly a new phenomenon. The Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) scheme, in which private firms contracted with the NHS to carry out elective procedures, was initiated under the previous Labour government; the first such centre opened in 2003.
The scheme was heavily criticised, and widely held to have failed in its aims of relieving financial and operational pressure on the NHS while continuing to deliver quality healthcare.
In 2006, a Commons Select Committee examined whether the objectives of the ISTC scheme had been met, and concluded that while 'there are major benefits from separating elective and emergency care in treatment centres [and] such centres should continue to be built', they were 'not, however, convinced that ISTCs provide better value for money than other options such as more NHS Treatment Centres, greater use of NHS facilities out-of-hours or partnership arrangements.'
Laurence Vick, head of Michelmores' Clinical Negligence Department, was asked to make a submission to the Committee outlining his professional opinion of ISTCs. In it he expresses numerous concerns, including the clinical standards at ISTCs and the lack of communication between ISTCs and the NHS. He also gives an example of one of Michelmores' clients who received negligent treatment at one of the centres, the now-defunct Royal Hospital in Haslar, Portsmouth.
Full text of Laurence's submission - Independent Sector Treatment Centres.