A private hospital in Brentwood is helping to provide patients across south-west Essex with greater choice over where they have hospital treatment, it has emerged.
NHS patients in the region can now choose to attend Spire Hartswood Hospital after it teamed up with the South West Essex primary care trust (PCT) to offer a greater degree of local choice.
GPs will now be able to offer local patients the option of surgery at Hartswood, with treatment being funded in the same way as NHS care.
Mandy Ansell, the PCT's head of strategic commissioning and market development, said that partnering with Spire was "all about enabling patients to exercise their right to choose".
"We recognise that patients have different needs and lifestyles, so offering them a real choice in where and when they receive treatment is a top local priority," she said.
Spire Hartswood Hospital believes the initiative will help to reduce waiting times for NHS patients in Essex.
"We plan to add further specialties to our directory of services in future, but to begin with we are offering a range of the most frequently needed treatments," said Mark Gilmour, the hospital's general manager.
Spire Healthcare was formed earlier this year from the sale of Bupa Hospitals to leading private equity company Cinven.