§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many contracts for independent sector treatment centres have so far been signed in the NHS in England; 
(2) what his Department's projected timetable is for introducing independent sector treatment centres into the NHS in England; 
(3) how many independent sector treatment centres are in the process of construction in England. 
§ Mr. Hutton
Four contracts for independent sector treatment centres (IS-TCs) have so far been signed for treatment centres in North Bradford, Trent and South Yorkshire, and Daventry, and for two mobile ophthalmology treatment centres operating throughout England. Of these, the IS-TC at Daventry and the mobile ophthalmology treatment centres are already treating patients. In addition, there is a IS-TC at Redwood, which is a public-private partnership between the national health service and BUPA that opened in October 2002.
A further 31 IS-TCs that are in development subject to negotiations with preferred bidders and schemes will proceed only if they provide the required level of value for money for NHS commissioners. We have appointed preferred bidders for 30 of these schemes and expect to 846W reach contract close by the end of summer 2004 with the treatment centres becoming fully operational over the following 18 months.
In addition, the Government announced in the White Paper, "Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS (December 2003)", their intention to explore ways to develop extra diagnostic services capacity in order to help reduce waiting times and facilitate choice. This will be sourced from NHS and independent sector providers.