Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) are free-standing surgical units which deliver, for the most part, elective surgical procedures which require only a very limited stay in hospital (cataracts, hip replacements, ear, nose and throat etc). They are a key part of the government's 10-year strategy for tackling waiting lists, increasing capacity in the NHS, and giving patients more choice in where they are to be treated.
The first ISTC opened in Daventry in 2003, run by the Birkdale Clinic.
The ISTC programme was established as part of the 2002 reforms of the NHS (The NHS Plan: a plan for investment a plan for reform). The government’s intention was to encourage private capital to invest in the future of UK healthcare through a series of ISTCs, with these hospitals sitting alongside and competing with existing NHS hospitals.
Approximately 23 in Phase 1 and no limit in Phase 2.
The Department of Health and Commissioners have worked together to identify the areas where extra capacity or greater choice is required.
ISTC and NHS facilities deliver service to the same high standards. Both are regulated by the Healthcare Commission to ensure standards are met.
ISTC focus mainly on providing services for NHS patients, although they may also cater for private patients. Traditional private hospitals have focused much more on private patients.
10 including UKSH. The other providers are:
The Department of Health through a tender process decides which supplier to use.
Normally 8am to 5pm however sometimes operating hours are longer or the ISTC may be open at weekends if the patient chooses.
Generally the design of ISTCs results in fewer Hospital Acquired Infections. Shepton Mallet Treatment Centre has a 0% rate of MRSA and C-difficile for its in-patients.
Although this is rare, robust arrangements are in place so that either the problem is dealt with by the ISTC, or the patients is transferred to the NHS if that is clinically more appropriate.
Patients choose in consultation with their GP whether to be treated at an ISTC. The GP will then refer the patient to their chosen facility.
For the first phase of ISTC schemes, contracts totalling around £2 billion over five years were allocated. The value of the second phase of ISTC schemes is currently expected to be around £3m a five year basis (with an additional £1 billion to be invested in diagnostic procedures). The market value of all Phase 1 and Phase 2 ISTC contracts on an annual continuing basis is around £1 billion per year.
No. It is about increasing patient choice and capacity. The NHS principles are the same: it is free at point of delivery, comprehensive and universal and free at the point of delivery.