The Department of Health has signed a deal worth £200m with 14 independent healthcare companies to carry out thousands of additional elective care procedures, HSJhas learned.

The Department of Health has signed a deal worth£200m with 14 independent healthcare companies to carry out thousands of additional elective care procedures, HSJhas learned.

The contracts, signed last week, are intended to deliver an additional 150,000 procedures per year, via the DoH's 'extended choice' network.

The 14 companies will be added immediately to the central extended choice menu, which currently consists of all foundation trusts and some independent treatment centres. Under the policy, patients awaiting elective care can choose from this list, as well as from at least four local providers.

The network of independent sector providers is intended to deliver an additional 150,000 procedures per year, on an 'ad hoc' basis, as part of the DoH's second wave of elective care private sector procurement.

HSJ understands that seven of the big name private healthcare companies have won a large chunk of the work. BMI Healthcare, part of the Netcare group, is the biggest winner, securing 44 contracts across the country.

Other contract winners include Bupa, Nuffield, Capio, Centres for Clinical Excellence, Mercury Health, and Nations Healthcare.

Several small private companies are also understood to have won small contracts to provide local services to NHS patients.

Each contract will run for five years and the private companies will provide NHS patients with a range of elective care services including general surgery, endoscopy, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and neurology.

The aim of the central procurement is to get the NHS more advantageous terms by bulk-buying private hospital services instead of leaving trusts to pay higher prices by spot purchasing, as they have traditionally done.

Unlike the first-wave elective care contracts, where PCTs had to pay for the number of procedures contracted - even if they did not use the capacity - the latest deals will operate under a 'take or pay' arrangement, which means PCTs only pay for work carried out.

Earlier this month, the DoH named Netcare and Partnership Health Group, in partnership with Alliance Medical, as preferred bidders for its controversial integrated assessment and treatment services in Manchester.

At the same time the DoH also signed a deal with UK Specialist Hospitals, formerly part of the New York Presbyterian Hospitals group, to act as preferred bidder for a second-wave elective independent treatment centre in the South West.

Last month Bupa was named preferred bidder for two elective independent treatment centre schemes in the North East and Cheshire and Merseyside as part of its wave-two elective care procurement programme.