Health Secretary Alan Johnson today (Thursday 15 November) outlined a continuing role for the independent sector in primary care services and providing additional GP surgeries.
Mr Johnson unveiled a package of measures designed to deliver more choice and faster treatment to patients.
He gave the go ahead to three new independent sector schemes with a combined value of approximately £200m, and reaffirmed the government's commitment to using a range of providers to deliver high-quality health services.
The Health Secretary set out details of how the Department of Health (DH) will ensure there is a level playing field for all NHS providers in future. These include:
Mr Johnson said: "There is no doubt the independent sector has helped improve health services for patients, helping speed up treatments and galvanise the NHS to raise its game.
"Private sector companies and voluntary sector providers are providing NHS patients with access to high quality and faster treatment – as well as offering patients unprecedented choice about when and where they are treated.
"So far, the independent sector has provided nearly 800,000 operations, diagnostic assessments and primary care consultations to NHS patients.
"Our approach to the independent sector is pragmatic not ideological. Where independent sector providers offer good value for money, innovation and high-quality patient care, we will bring them in to work with the NHS and raise standards across the service."