19 November 2007 | Paul Snell
The Department of Health (DH) has abandoned six potential deals with the private sector because of concerns they would not offer value for money.
The schemes, where the private sector provides a range of diagnostic and treatment services, "are no longer necessary" because they could not demonstrate value for money. It follows a review by the DH commercial directorate of all schemes currently being procured.
The procurement of 10 other deals for similar services will continue. It was announced this summer that after the current deals are completed, services will be bought locally rather than centrally.
The department also said it was cancelling a contract for diagnostic services in the West Midlands because poor take-up of the service meant it could not be justified financially.
Alan Johnson, the health secretary, told the Commons: "The reduction in overall size of the procurement does not represent a change in policy. We will continue to use the independent sector. We will now move toward greater local procurement of services. This will enable Primary Care Trusts to take procurement decisions quickly rather than waiting for a prolonged process run from Whitehall."
The British Medical Association (BMA) was critical of the decision to cancel the schemes. "It's a crying shame that so much money has been wasted on this political initiative when the NHS could have achieved better value for money," said Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA's Consultants Committee.