The NHS have confirmed a three-month agreement with independent healthcare organisations to help with the current covid surge.
The deal will see private health sector organisations put their staff and facilities on standby in case the NHS need support over the coming months.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:“This agreement demonstrates the collaboration across our health care services to create an additional safeguard that ensures people can continue to get the care they need from our world-leading NHS, whenever they need it."
Super surge wards could be set up in neighbouring gyms and education centres to help with capacity issues.
Patients who require treatment or surgery for some forms of cancer will be redirected to the independent sector to ensure the waiting list does not reach the next state of backlog.
The agreement will only come into effect if NHS hospitals begin to struggle with capacity and demand for beds with Covid cases.
NHS England chief operating officer and COVID incident director Sir David Sloman said: “NHS staff have done an incredible job over the last year recovering elective treatment levels and then keeping non-COVID services going as pressures have built.
“As part of this millions of patients have already got their tests and treatment quicker thanks to our existing deal with independent providers.
“With the high number of Omicron cases placing even greater pressure on hospitals now and over the coming weeks, this deal, struck under direction from the Secretary of State, means as many people as possible can continue to get the care they need.
“It also places independent health providers on standby to provide further help should hospitals face unsustainable levels of hospitalisations or staff absences.
“Just like the Nightingale hubs being created across the country, we hope never to need their support but it will be there if needed.
“The public can play their part in helping us to help you getting vaccinated against COVID – it is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends”.
The following independent sector health providers form part of the deal:
- Practice Plus Group
- Spire Healthcare
- Nuffield Health
- Circle Health Group
- Ramsay Health Care UK
- Healthcare Management Trust
- One Healthcare
- Horder Healthcare
- Aspen Healthcare
- KIMS Hospital
David Hare, Chief Executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), said: “Independent sector providers have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the NHS throughout the pandemic, playing a key role in enabling vital NHS care including cancer and cardiology treatment to continue, whilst also maintaining services for private patients.
“The arrangements being announced today, in response to a call by government and the NHS for further independent sector support during the Omicron wave of COVID-19, will help to bolster planned NHS care including cancer treatment this winter whilst ensuring that independent sector providers can continue to treat private patients.
“The arrangements will also provide the NHS with additional targeted support in the event that local NHS pressures are deemed as unsustainable”.