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Despite the breakdown of a major deal, a consortium that includes the Calgary Health Region is still in the running to provide privatized surgeries in Britain.

A consortium that includes the region, the University of Calgary and Surgical Centres Inc. is negotiating to provide privatized hernia surgeries and hip replacements to patients of the National Health Service through a new diagnostic and treatment centre at Southend Hospital. The NHS will cover the procedures, which will be provided for profit by Anglo-Canadian Clinics at a private facility.

The deal is going ahead despite Anglo-Canadian losing a major NHS contract for 30,000 operations in London hospitals earlier this year. At the time, a department of health official said that if we had gone ahead with the Anglo-Canadian deal it would have cost ridiculously more than the NHS tariff for these operations. The government did not explain why it was only six months after choosing Anglo-Canadian that it became clear the price was too high. Former health secretary Frank Dobson said this shows that even when cherry-picking the easiest cases to deal with, these foreign firms cant do it as cheaply as the NHS.

British officials should take a closer look at the Calgary regions own experiences with for-profit care. A recent contract handing 500 surgeries to the for-profit Health Resource Centre will cost the health authority 10 per cent more than if the surgeries were done in the public system about $8,690 per operation, compared with an average of $7,900. And earlier this year, the Calgary Health Region abandoned plans to build a new hospital as a P3, opting instead to publicly finance, own and operate the new facility.

Surgical Centres Inc., another consortium partner, operates for-profit clinics in Alberta and British Columbia. The corporation performs mainly eye and mouth surgeries, as well as joint, plastic and other procedures.