(2) what consultation was held prior to the decision on a preferred provider for the independent sector treatment centre for Basildon, Essex; and if she will make a statement.
Phase 2 of the independent sector treatment centre (ISTC) programme was announced in May 2005. Any company interested in the programme was free to register an expression of interest, and complete a pre-qualifying questionnaire (PQQ), issued in late August 2005. Following this process, bidders were short-listed and issued with an invitation to tender (ITT). Bids were then returned for the Essex electives scheme.
The Department received 26 PQQ responses from potential bidders. On the Essex electives ISTC scheme, four bidders were short-listed and issued with an ITT, of which four bids were returned.
The procurement process, including the appointment of the preferred bidder, is being undertaken in accordance with European procurement regulations which set out requirements for each stage of the process from advertisement to the evaluation of bids and through to the negotiation of contractual terms with the successful bidder.
The establishment of ISTCs is a key part of the Government’s health care reforms. The Government’s intention to use private and voluntary organisations to increase capacity and choice were clearly set out in the NHS Plan (2000) and the NHS Improvement Plan (2003). Subsequent policy documents have set out the reform programme clearly.
Consultation on changes to local services is a matter for local primary care trusts (PCTs) in conjunction with strategic health authorities. A series of local meetings are ongoing between the Department, the preferred bidder on the Essex ISTC scheme (Mercury Health) and the local national health service, including the establishment of steering groups which will enable PCTs, as commissioners of local services, to engage with other relevant stakeholders on the proposed plans for the Essex ISTCs.