By Robin Stride
It’s five long months since the start of lockdown, but independent practitioners have finally got the news they have been waiting for.
Private practice for thousands of doctors is set to be kick-started back into business again from Monday 7 September.
Nearly all private providers in London are set to be removed from an NHS contract with effect from this date – as will some other facilities outside the capital.
It means a welcome return to pre-Covid arrangements, according to the chairman of the Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations.
Mr Richard Packard told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘This is good news for the private sector as it means that as most private hospitals undertook significant NHS contract work already, and allowing for regional variations, the time available for private patients in most private hospitals is close to pre-pandemic levels.
‘We now need to see how quickly demand for private services pick up to fill the newly available capacity.’
£10bn for waiting lists
In an article on this website today, he says the Government’s earmarking of up to £10bn, to reduce mounting NHS waiting lists during the pandemic, will be paid to private providers for clinical services under a new procurement framework to supersede the current contractual arrangement.
He writes: ‘This procurement framework is just like any other public sector procurement in that it invites bids from relevant providers on a commercial basis – there is no scope for an industry-wide approach here and it will be up to individual operators if and how they choose to respond.
‘Tender bids will need to be received by 27 August and the contracts awarded by the end of November. The contracts will be expected to run for two years in the first instance with an option to extend for a further two years.
‘The major difference with previous arrangements is that the independent sector providers now decide if they want to be involved in providing these services for the NHS, not the other way around.’
From 7 September, private hospitals in London can utilise all their capacity for private patients (30%-40% in the South-east and a minimum of 25% of normal working hours capacity for private patients in the remainder of England).
- Click here to see more details in Mr Packard’s full article