The King's Fund statement on Health Committee's report on independent sector treatment centres

The King's Fund today welcomed the Health Select Committee's report on independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) and said the reality is that we are at a very early stage in their development and much of the commentary thus far has been based on a small amount of activity.

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson commented saying that it is a matter for concern that the Department of Health has embarked on a major initiative with clear objectives but without sound mechanisms for measuring whether and how they are achieved. He said:

'The introduction of treatment centres is generally regarded as a good thing – and frankly whether they are run by an NHS or an independent organisation is less important than ensuring they enhance efficiency, capacity and choice.

'The NHS has sometimes been slow to adopt new procedures – indeed many experts have been calling for the separation of routine and emergency surgery for years without much response.

'Clearly there were mistakes made in procuring this programme, not least in failing to ensure from the outset that the new centres were obliged to provide experience for doctors in training. But it is too early to reach any definitive conclusion about its long term effect.'

Niall Dickson added:

'If we are going to learn from major new policies in future we must do much more to ensure the monitoring and measuring is in place from the outset. Otherwise policy formulation will constantly be driven by rhetoric not reality.'

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.