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British surgeons say contracting out routine surgeries to private clinics is wreaking havoc on hospitals. The association representing the countrys general surgeons says the private sector is cream skimming the easy operations to rake in profits as fast as possible.

The associations head, Robert Lane, says privatized operations rob new surgeons of training opportunities, fragment clinical services and destabilize the finances of the countrys National Health System. The result is public hospitals that are less able to handle more complex operations.

The contracting out scheme, launched in 2003, handed 250,000 operations to corporations. The government privatized care claiming it would shorten wait times for diagnostic scans and treatment.

In a move that could further complicate diagnosis and treatment, a corporation that will run five private clinics (known as independent sector treatment centres) has revealed it will further sub-contract care to a company that will send NHS patients X-rays for analysis by doctors in Sri Lanka.

Files will be sent and returned by e-mail something the head of Britains Society of Radiography says will reduce coordination of care. Richard Evans told the media that having doctors and radiographers working face-to-face improves care.