I note with interest the views of Michael White.and his 'Whitehall chum' on the competitive merits of Nuffield Hospitals and others, who have apparently been 'found wanting' in the process of market reform.
While the first independent sector treatment centres were still being built, in 2004 and 2005, Nuffield Hospitals was busy treating 55,000 NHS patients.
We were the first independent provider to offer choose and book appointments in December 2006, and all of our hospitals in England are now live and compliant (which cannot be claimed by any other provider, including the NHS). We have just taken a public decision, to which Mr White refers, to move forward with the NHS purely on choice, at tariff and at our own risk, without either crying about the new competition in the market or seeking the security blanket of five-year value-backed contracts.
Where patients want care that community hospitals are not equipped to provide, we can bring it to their doorstep through our unique mobile facilities. Our waiting times are short, our infection rates are almost zero, and our car parking is free.
In short, despite the frustrations of the procurement process over the last few years, and despite a fairly perpetual barrage of criticism from many quarters, we're still doing absolutely everything we can to offer better and better services to NHS patients. And to all our other patients. And, as a not-for-profit, every single penny earned is spent on patient care, not returns on equity.
But please, tell us what more we can do. We'll be happy to help.
Matthew James, director, Nuffield Hospitals