I read with concern your article of January 18 reporting on the leaked Healthcare Commission draft report into data on clinical quality of independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs).
The draft report referred to is based on inaccurate and out of date data. The highest standards of clinical care for patients are the first priority for members of the NHS Partners Network, the alliance of ISTC providers. ISTCs are subject to a more robust clinical quality regime than conventional NHS providers.
Clinical pathways and standards are defined during the contract negotiations and monitored through Key Performance Indicators as part of the contract management.
ISTCs are subject to independent, external review at least once a year by the Healthcare Commission and quarterly by a Joint Service Review Board, acknowledged by the National Centre for Health Outcomes Development in its Preliminary Overviewreport October 2005.
The NHS Partners Network welcomed the announcement by the Secretary of State in 2006 of an independent clinical audit of ISTCs. We look forward to publication of the final Healthcare Commission report and we will continue to work closely with them, the Department of Health and our colleagues in the NHS on the basis of its findings.
We are proud of the high clinical standards and expert medical staff that our members provide, delivering diagnosis and treatment for NHS patients to the very highest standards, according to need and not ability to pay.
Richard Jones, Chairman, NHS Partners Network