Published: 19/08/2004, Volume II4, No. 5919 Page 8

Health secretary John Reid is expected to order the management of the second wave of independent sector procurement from within the Department of Health rather than giving individual trusts the power to approach private companies and commission work themselves.

HSJ understands that the next wave of the programme could open up a further 6 per cent of the NHS market to private companies in order to meet the capacity gap in diagnostics and chronic-disease management.

But HSJ has been told that there is some anxiety in government that the centralised approach could work against the overall strategy of devolving power within the NHS.

The first wave, which includes the orthopaedic spine chain contracted to UK provider Capio and the ophthalmic chain operated by South African-based company Netcare, has so far opened up 3.5 per cent of the NHS to the private sector.

But a significant increase in diagnostic capacity is still needed to meet waiting-time targets, and the DoH believes that bringing in the private sector will be the quickest way to address the problem.

Australian firms, and those from the Far East are expected to be among those bidding for contracts.

An announcement on a list of potential bidders for the second wave of projects is expected in October. This will include private companies that failed to win contracts in the first round. Private providers will also be invited to bid for work around chronic disease management.

The DoH is thought to be drawing up a list of potential providers of chronic-disease management services.

Companies are expected to bid to provide whole packages of managed care for different long term conditions in local areas, similar to the Evercare and Kaiser Permanente models which have already been piloted. But the DoH may also invite private providers to bid for local lists to provide care for patients with single specific longterm conditions such as diabetes.