“Commercial partners” could take over “entirety” of planned imaging networks

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New diagnostic imaging networks will be of such scale that they will be ‘significant operation businesses in their own right’ and will ‘need a distinct identity and arm’s length separation from the trusts’, NHS England has said.

Guidance published yesterday gave trusts “until 2023” to set up diagnostic networks which will have their “own distinct leadership [and] governance arrangements” and will be responsible for asset management, financing, quality, staffing and location of all elective and non elective imaging across England.

The networks were first proposed in NHS England’s 2019 long-term plan as a way to increase testing turnaround time, reduce waiting times for scans and make more efficient use of staff. The NHS planning guidance for 2021-22 said the new networks were essential to help capacity keep pace with growing demand, which to date it has failed to do, and would be “particularly critical to support elective recovery” in the wake of the pandemic.

In new operational guidance, NHS England has outlined seven models the networks can take, which include “outsourcing the service in its entirety, including ownership of the capital assets required for delivery of the service, to a commercial partner”.

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Source: HSJ

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Date: 23 April 2021