Research published in the British Medical Journal today argues that there is no good evidence that independent sector treatment centres provide value for money or high-quality care.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: "This paper adds to criticisms from the Commons public accounts committee and the Healthcare Commission relating to the quality and cost-effectiveness of these centres. We have repeatedly raised concerns that this is£5bn wasted on ideology rather than evidence. The government seems to have been charmed by the private sector, but is unable to prove its effectiveness or value for money."