Headlines: August 21st, 2002

The fast track diagnostic and treatment hospitals provided by the private sector are taking longer to come on stream than was planned. Shadow Health Secretary Dr Liam Fox claims Bupa’s Redwood Hospital at Redhill, Surrey will not meet expectations. He cites changing specifications combined with limited understanding of how the private sector works as reasons for the slow down. He also claimed that private sector operators are now showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm about their involvement.Bupa has acknowledged that negotiations are still in progress, but the Department of Health expects the contract to be signed in the coming weeks. What has become clear is that using private sector facilities in this way is more complex that was thought originally. The negotiations are breaking new ground and they will set the precedent for other private sector fast track hospitals.

Under the arrangement with Bupa, Redhil Hospital will perform 5,000 routine operations such as hip and knee replacements each year for the NHS.