§ 28. Mr. Race
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement concerning the use by National Health Service patients of private hospital facilities.
§ Dr. Vaughan
The NHS has always used facilities in private hospitals and nursing homes as a way of providing services to NHS patients. About 3,000 private beds were used by NHS patients in 1978, and there were 217,000 NHS out-patient attendances in private institutions. I am keen to encourage this and other forms of collaboration between the NHS and the independent sector. I believe this will benefit the NHS—for example, by taking advantage of facilities which may be in short supply in particular localities, and by helping to reduce waiting lists. The Department has recently issued for comment a draft circular on contractual arrangements with the private sector. Besides encouraging authorities to consider greater use of contractual arrangements, this lifts the previous bar on contracts with profit-making bodies and revises earlier guidance on the form of contracts so as to allow greater flexibility to fit particular local requirements.