Published: 06/10/2005 Volume 115 No. 5976 Page 7

A healthcare company set up as a cooperative in which NHS and independent sector professionals would work alongside one another is to provide a third way in UK healthcare provision, according to its founder.

Former merchant banker Ali Parsa, chair of Centres of Clinical Excellence, set up last year to compete for both private and NHS patients and bankrolled by City investors, intends to build health campuses across the country. These would focus on acute care, but other healthcare facilities would be provided, including GP and dental surgeries and pharmacies.

Mr Parsa said CCE aimed to operate independently in areas where extra provision was needed. But elsewhere, the group would seek to set up 'joint ventures and partnerships' with acute trusts. He said the group was already in discussion with foundation trusts 'to see how we could work with them'.

However, he said that CCE was unlikely to bid for the government's second-wave contracts to provide extra private sector capacity under choice, currently out to tender to the private companies.

'We are not an independent sector treatment centre. We are not cherry-picking, we are not asking the to commit five years of taxpayers' money to us, ' Mr Parsa said.

He added that the group intended to attract patients through 'word of mouth' rather than marketing.

See Comment, page 3.