COMMERCIAL: The primary care trust’s board was asked to approve contract extensions for two independent sector-run clinical assessment and treatment services (CATS).

The two contracts went live in April 2008. The dermatology CATS is provided by Durnford Dermatology, the opthalmology CATS provided by Care UK. The fourth year of the contracts expires on 13 April 2012.

A paper to the NHSHMR January board stated: “The Local CATS offer substantial savings compared with traditional secondary care pathways. Failure to extend the contracts would result in additional funding being required to repatriate the activity back into secondary care.

“There is a national shortage of dermatology consultants, with 17 vacant posts across the North West of England. It is highly unlikely that it would be possible to repatriate the dermatology activity back to a hospital based service.”