Published: 04/07/2002, Volume II2, No. 5812 PagePrivate clinics and hospital groups in France, Greece and the US have been asked to indicate this week whether they can send clinical teams to eight NHS organisations which have put in the first bids for overseas clinical teams, HSJ has learned.

The government hopes the first foreign teams to carry out operations on NHS patients in England will be in place by the end of this month.

Clinique de la LouviÞre, in Lille, France, Athens Euroclinic and University of Pittsburgh medical center health system (UPMC) have been sent specifications setting out the requirements of NHS organisations which the government envisages could be 'first movers' in the scheme.

The document sent to the private providers - and seen by HSJ - suggests that contracts would range from six months to two years.

The eight NHS organisations involved in the scheme are: Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire strategic health authority; Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust; East Somerset trust; Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals trust; Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA; South Yorkshire SHA; Peterborough Hospitals trust; Taunton and Somerset trust.

The organisations involved have put in bids for overseas teams to carry out around 9,000 operations and procedures, mainly over the next six months.

The main demands are for opthalmic and orthopaedic surgeons, and anaesthetists, but there are also requests for general surgeons, theatre and day-surgery nurses; operating-department practitioners, secretarial and administrative staff.

The overseas providers have been asked to indicate this week whether they can meet the trusts' needs and what the cost would be.

Overseas teams bidding for the contracts will be expected to visit the NHS sites this month to meet local clinicians and agree methods of identifying suitable patients.

The operations are likely to be carried out in NHS theatres, using spare capacity at night and weekends in some cases, and in some local private hospitals. Two are named in the trust's specifications as Derwent Hospital (part of Bournemouth Nuffield Hospital) - for Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust - and Birkdale Clinic, Rotherham - for South Yorkshire SHA.

Some on-call commitment may be included in some contracts with overseas teams. In some cases it is envisaged that clinical responsibility will rest with the overseas team, not the employing trust. It is planned that the overseas clinicians will be employed on honorary locum contracts. Some teams will also be required to carry out pre-operative assessments, and outpatient, pre-admission and post-operative clinics.

Clinique de la LouviÞre, a 300bed private general hospital, has links with the NHS and earlier this year treated patients from England waiting for hip and cataract operations. UPMC is a US not-for-profit group which owns 19 hospitals and has run a transplant unit at Civico Public Hospital in Palermo, Sicily, staffed by US doctors, since 1997. It plans to build a transplant unit in the hospital grounds which will treat private and state-funded patients.

The group is understood to be considering similar ventures in Prague, Hungary and Ireland.