Independent Healthcare Providers Network

Report calls on NHS leaders to make better use of the independent sector

15 years concordat

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network launched a report today (18 June) calling on NHS leaders to use the independent sector to help re-design health and care services. They believe hundreds of thousands of patients a year could benefit from more treatment and care from the independent sector.

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) – the body representing independent sector providers of NHS clinical services – launched their report 15 Years of Concordat: reflection and renewal calling for the NHS to become more radical in asking more of the independent sector in areas such as capital investment and technological innovation. 

A renewed relationship

The call to renew the relationship between the independent and public sectors builds on the Concordat made by the NHS with the private sector – published in October 2000 – which set out ways in which the sector could support the NHS. Since then millions of NHS patients have chosen to be treated by the independent sector across a wide range of NHS services including hospital care, diagnostics, community services, primary and urgent care and clinical home healthcare.

Chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, David Hare, said:  “Over many decades the independent sector has played its part in ensuring that NHS patients receive high quality care, free at the point of use, based on clinical need and not ability to pay. Those principles and values are as important now as they were in 1948 and we are ready, willing and able to put our shoulder to the wheel to help maintain and improve the NHS in the years ahead. 


“Today’s report shows how many NHS patients are being treated by the independent sector, the excellent outcomes delivered by many of our services and the benefits which the sector brings in areas like low waiting-times and low cancellation rates.” 

New collaborations

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This important report emphasises the contribution made by independent sector providers to the NHS. It allows us to move the debate on and to do what is in the best interest of patients. Fifteen years on from the first ever Concordat between the NHS and the independent sector it is clear that the sector is now an important feature of the NHS, delivering services to millions of patients every year, free at the point of use.” 

“As we strive to meet the ever increasing demand for high-quality healthcare, new collaborations will change the way we deliver services to patients. These collaborations will involve all parts of the NHS, including the independent sector, and must harness the capability, energy, resources and innovation that each party brings.” 

Working 'hand in glove'

David Mobbs, report author and chief executive of independent sector provider Nuffield Health said: “Private and voluntary sector NHS providers are already working hand-in-glove with publicly-owned NHS providers to solve the challenges facing the NHS. During the last winter alone, the independent sector made 120,000 procedures available to the NHS to help deal with a spike in demand. 

“This support now needs to be put on a more sustainable footing to help give NHS patients throughout the country the care they need whenever they need it, seven days a week.”

Key findings

The report summarises the independent sector’s contribution, including:

  • Research conducted by the IHPN has suggested that greater use of independent sector providers tends to be correlated with lower waiting times for patients
  • The outcomes that patients report are achieved by the independent sector for hip and knee replacements are the highest achieved by all NHS-funded services
  • The independent sector is increasingly providing care for some of the most complex and vulnerable patients in the entire NHS, including patients with severe mental health needs and services for people with brain and spinal injuries

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