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Private providers treating NHS patients ‘on the up’

1 November 2012

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The number of hospital procedures paid for by the NHS but carried out in the private sector has risen by more than 10% in the past year, official figures show.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows private providers treated 345,200 NHS elective admissions with a procedure in 2011/12 – a 10.5% (32,900) increase on 2010/11.

The three most common main procedures carried out by the 198 private providers for the NHS in 2011/12 were endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract, relating to the digestive system (23,100), prosthesis of lens relating to cataract surgery (20,800) and endoscopic cartilage operations on knee joints (20,500).

The report Hospital Episodes Statistics Admitted Patient Care, England 2011/12 claims this activity accounts for 4.3% of all NHS elective admissions with a procedure in the past year (8m) compared to 4% in 2010/11 (7.7m).

Southampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT) commissioned the biggest proportion of work of any PCT from private providers (30.3%) in 2011/12 while the ten PCTs with the lowest proportions were all based in London.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said the research “provides an insight” into the relationship between the NHS and the private sector”.

The report also shows there were 15m admissions to the NHS in England overall  – covering emergency and elective admissions with or without a procedure – an increase of 0.9% on 2010/11 and a 15.7% rise on 2006/07.