More than half of primary care trust clusters have chosen community adult hearing services as one of the areas they will open up to competition, rather than nurse focused options such as wound care and continence services.
Under the government’s “any qualified provider” policy, PCT clusters must open at least three services up to competitive tender by September 2012.
Podiatry, chosen by 45% of clusters, and diagnostics, selected by 42% were the next most popular, according to Nursing Times analysis of information published by the Department of Health this week.
The least popular services were wound care which was selected by just Sussex and East London and the City cluster and continence services chosen by 10 clusters.
Clusters were given a list of eight services to choose from by the DH, worth just over £1bn, but were also free to choose alternatives if they could show why it would benefit patients.
The eight options were musculo-skeletal services for back and neck pain, adult hearing services in the community, continence services, diagnostic tests closer to home, wheelchair services for children, podiatry services, venous leg ulcer and wound healing, and primary care psychological therapies for adults.
Around 18 PCTs opted for at least one service outside the list such as anticoagulation, endoscopy and dermatology. Seven of these were in the East of England.