Three more independent sector treatment centre schemes worth a total of £50m have been given the go-ahead by the Department of Health and the Treasury.

Two treatment centres in Greater Manchester, run by Care UK, will offer clinical assessment and treatment services. The third, in Southampton, will be operated by Partnership Health Group - a partnership between Care UK and South African firm Life Healthcare. All three will now move to financial close.

An announcement on the future of a fourth scheme in Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, where UK Specialist Hospitals is the preferred bidder, is expected shortly.

Decisions on the fate of the remaining three schemes - in Hertfordshire, Essex and London - have now been devolved to strategic health authorities and will not be made until the end of November.

Private sector figures expressed frustration with the pace of the programme. Mike Parish, chief executive of Care UK, the preferred bidder for the Essex scheme, admitted there were "a significant number of issues" which "remain to be resolved".

Confederation of British Industry director of public services Neil Bentley said: "The message to private providers and investors is clear: doing business with the Department of Health is time-consuming, costly and frustrating.

"It seems baffling that decisions on some projects have already taken more than three years when the health minister himself says ISTCs are such a force for good".

Last autumn health secretary Alan Johnson announced that seven out of 17 planned treatment or diagnostic schemes would not go ahead.