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Sunday 18th March 2018

Threat from new centres

22nd January 2007

04092006_consulting_room1.jpgPrivately-run treatment centres aimed at cutting waiting lists will threaten the future of the NHS, say doctor’s leaders.

Ten clinical assessment, treat and support (CATS) centres are being considered in the North West as part of efforts to speed up care.

Government targets call for patients to be treated within 18 weeks of referral.

But the British Medical Association has raised fears over the impact of the centres, which would see all GP referrals across the six specialties that make up 80 per cent of hospital workloads: ear, nose and throat, general surgery, orthopaedics, rheumatology and minor treatments.

The BMA say the new centres will starve hospitals of money, by carrying out referrals, diagnostic tests and simple treatments in these areas and leave very little work for hospitals.

Health bosses are currently consulting on the new centres, which will cover Cumbria and Lancashire, but similar plans are expected for other parts of the country.

The Department of Health is handling contract negotiation centrally, with NHS trusts set to pay only for the services used.

If approved, the centres are expected to see their first patients by the end of the summer.

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