The NHS have announced this morning that it has struck a deal with private health companies to expand capacity should Omicron overwhelm the public service.
The deal, ordered by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, allows NHS hospitals to send a wider range of patients to the private sector for treatments such as cancer surgery and other care not normally delivered under existing arrangements.
“It also places independent health providers on standby to provide further help should hospitals face unsustainable levels of hospitalisations or staff absences,” said David Sloman, NHS England chief operating officer and Covid incident director.
The agreement includes Practice Plus Group, Spire Healthcare, Nuffield Health, Circle Health Group, Ramsay Health Care UK, Healthcare Management Trust, One Healthcare, Horder Healthcare, Aspen Healthcare and KIMS Hospital, the NHS said.
Paolo Pieri, chief executive of Circle Health Group, commented: “We’re enormously proud to have provided urgent, life-saving surgery for over 30,000 NHS cancer patients during the course of the pandemic, and have cared for more than 400,000 NHS patients.
“We stand ready to support the NHS in its time of need, and we have now reached formal agreement to offer additional support where necessary during the next stage of the pandemic.”
Circle Health is the largest independent hospital group in the UK, with 52 hospitals and 2,000 beds.