COMMENT - INDEPENDENT SECTOR

Published: 06/10/2005 Volume 115 No. 5976 Page 3

Managers will have been intrigued by the news that former Goldman Sachs investment banker Ali Parsa has secured more than£100m to set up a string of treatment centres - and, most importantly, signed up hundreds of NHS consultants as 'partners' (news, page 7).

Mr Parsa will need a lot more than£100m to build what he claims could be as many as 40 purpose-built health campuses in the next five years. But his willingness to set up joint ventures with trusts as well as attract private business could herald a significant shift in the manner and scale of interactions between the NHS and independent sector. After all, these sites will combine primary and acute care.

Imaginative foundation trust chief executives may see the potential in forming partnerships with these campuses once PCTs are forced to abandon service provision.

The other big issue will be consultant migration. Mr Parsa claims that his health campus doctors will keep working for the NHS, but would this be the case in practice?

Some doctors, of course, are not averse to having things both ways. Mr Parsa claims Massoud Fouladi, chair of the Association of Ophthalmologists (UK) and a ophthalmic surgeon at East Kent trust, as a member of his company's clinical board.

The AOO's website denounces the NHS as 'Stalinist' and calls for patients to be issued with what sounds like the patient passport that the Tories dropped from their health policy. Strangely, this is the same Mr Foualdi who wrote to the Daily Telegraph in January to complain that independent treatment centres staffed by overseas medics were an 'insult' to hardworking NHS doctors and jeopardised patients, clinical training and trust finances.