The number of NHS-funded elective procedures carried out in the private sector rose 10.5 per cent last year, NHS Information Centre data shows.

Figures from the centre released today showed private providers treated 345,200 NHS elective admissions in 2011-12, an increase of 32,900 on 2010-11.

The centre’s data showed the proportion of all NHS elective admissions treated by the independent sector rising from four per cent to 4.3 per cent in the same period.

The Information Centre said the three most common NHS-funded procedures carried out by private providers last year were endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract relating to the digestive system, prosthesis of lens relating to cataract surgery and endoscopic cartilage operations on knee joints.

It also showed Southampton City Primary Care Trust made the most use of private providers, by the proportion of admitted procedures, with 30.3 per cent.

Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Hospital episode statistics have the potential to offer an incredibly rich and detailed picture of the activity happening within secondary care in this country.

“The figures also provide an insight into the relationship between the NHS and the private sector; in terms of the volume and type of work dealt with by private providers on behalf of the health service.

“Today’s report shows that NHS hospital activity continues to grow on a yearly basis – with admissions passing 15 million in England in 2011-12.”