Private healthcare providers agreed, early during the pandemic, to make their facilities available to the NHS to ensure that the state-owned provider was not completely overwhelmed during the crisis.
More or less the entire capacity of the private healthcare sector was made available to the NHS.
It meant that a lot of work that might normally be done under the auspices of the NHS, including cancer and cardiac treatment, was carried out in private hospitals.
Much was made about the cost of this arrangement, which was put at £400m a month during the early months of the pandemic, although the Independent Hospital Provider Network, which represents private healthcare providers, has insisted any profits made under the terms of the agreement were returned.
The arrangement, however, deprived the private operators of space in which to carry out their regular work.
Private elective surgery almost completely stopped by April last year.
That was also partly because the NHS consultants who work for the private sector in their spare time were so busy that they were unable to do private work.
Accordingly, the private operators paid a heavy financial price.