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Private firms to help NHS

8th October 2007

The government has published a list of 14 private firms who have been approved to aid primary care trusts (PCTs) in the commissioning of patient services.

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The new agreement is called the Framework for procuring External Support for Commissioners (FESC) and has been developed to help PCTs ensure that the costs of finding advice were kept low.

The list includes large UK healthcare players, such as BUPA and Dr Foster, as well as major insurance companies in the US.

Health Minister Ivan Lewis said: "This new guidance will allow PCTs to benefit from a bank of knowledge already built up through the Department of Health procurement process.

He said that the trusts would have the opportunity of working with well-known organisations "which will enable them to concentrate their efforts and expertise on providing patient care."

The government said the private firms could help PCTs within specific areas such as data analysis, but would not be responsible for patient care.

Mr Lewis said that PCTs would be able to make the decision to use the new suppliers.

Geoff Martin, head of campaigns at Health Emergency, criticised what he called the government's leaning towards the "wholesale privatisation" of primary care.

He said the idea of US healthcare providers teaching the health service "any lessons defies belief".




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