The NHS Improvement Plan 2004

imaging tests who do not have an appointment within 20 weeks will be offered the choice of having their
scan at another provider within a maximum of 20 weeks. This brings new challenges to the NHS, for it
covers all diagnostic imaging tests apart from CT and MRI, and other clinical specialities like
echocardiography, ultrasound scanning performed in urology/urodynamics and GI physiology, and vascular
scanning performed in vascular technology departments. This obviously brings the independent providers
into the scene.

It is true that whenever choice is introduced, local services tend to improve. Firstly, the
threat of competition leads local services to improve their standards. Second, choice leads to
the creation of new provision which benefits local people. This will certainly ring true for the
imaging services as well. People are to have control over issues like when and where to get a
screening done and thereby ensure the quality and convenience that they want. But the local independent
sector providers are more or less new to the market. As such, strong management and co-ordination of
services by clinicians, radiographers and managers is imperative for ensuring the safety of the patients.
Moreover, there are various concerns about the quality of service provided by the independent sector. In
June 2004, Alliance Medical Ltd. won a contract to supply the NHS with 130000 MRI Scans per annum
for five years. The contract was widely criticised by healthcare unions, including the Society of
Radiographers (SoR) which said that the government should have consulted radiographers and those who
knew the service best. Patients given MRI scans by Alliance Medical Ltd…
The researcher of this essay aims to critically evaluate the statement "By 2008, the Independent Sector will provide up to 15% of procedures on behalf of the NHS" and indicate what effect this will have on NHS Services provided by Imaging Departments of the United Kingdom. The researcher states that NHS Improvement Plan, 2004, predicts a promising healthcare scenario with the policy makers making it clear that the independent sector will play a key role in delivering NHS care, providing upto 15 percent of procedures on behalf of NHS in order to support capacity and choice. This will certainly provide better opportunities for patients as they will have an increased number of choices. The researcher mentiones that there are various concerns about the quality of service provided by the independent sector today. Thus, an increase in the number of choices will have major implications for imaging services as this has reduced waiting times to a great extent. It is describes that this will certainly ring true for the imaging services as well. But problems continue to surface, as the services are not integrated into NHS Departments of Radiology to an extent, which the situation demands. In conclusion, the researcher sums up that an ideal approach, in this case, would be enabling flexibility of staffing, and making the best use of teleradiology with images acquired being transmitted to an available radiologist and at the same time maintaining skills and quality assurance of machines and staff.

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