Leeds PCT has taken the Leeds-based hospitals of private sector providers BUPA and Nuffield off its choice list, thereby restricting the choice it offers to patients needing treatment.
A spokeswoman for the PCT said the decision had been taken because it was paying 'a premium' to the private providers above the NHS tariff price. 'We are able to meet our waiting-time targets and provide choice to patients without including these local private hospitals,' she said.
BUPA and Nuffield say the price includes the 'market forces factor', which makes allowance for higher costs in Leeds compared with other parts of the country and is paid to local NHS providers as well.
BUPA Hospitals commercial director Richard Jones said: 'We were disappointed by the PCT decision in Leeds to withdraw the choice of a local independent sector hospital from their choose and book programme.
'BUPA Hospital Leeds has been treating NHS patients for a number of years and has offered services with excellent clinical results and very high patient satisfaction.
'We remain hopeful that this will not be a permanent decision,' he added.
The Department of Health stipulates that patients are offered a choice of four local providers, including a local independent provider, and Leeds PCT continues to offer treatment at local independent sector treatment centres run by Nations Healthcare and Capio from its choice list.
From next month, patients will also be able to choose from a national extended choice menu of 14 private companies, including BUPA and Nuffield, as well as all foundation trusts and ISTCs.