§ Mr. Wilshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the deadline is for concluding contractual1698W negotiations with Capio for the creation of an independent sector treatment centre at Ashford hospital, Middlesex. 
§ Mr. Hutton
An initial contract was agreed with Capio UK on 13 May for the group of independent sector treatment centres called "the spine chain". However, because of a number of technical issues it was agreed with national health service sponsors and the strategic health authority that, to avoid delay for the majority of the chain, West Surrey would not be included in that contract. It has been agreed that a further period of up to 120 days will be allowed to enable the contract discussions to reach conclusion. We are hopeful of agreement within that period, and that if reached quickly, it shall not have an impact on the opening date of the treatment centre at Ashford, which is still expected to open by April 2005.