Evidence shows NHS biased against private sector29th March 2011
The BBC said that it has evidence which shows some health bosses are set to rebel against plans to increase competition in the health service.
The BBC said it has found out that trusts in England are bringing in measures that will make it more difficult for patients to choose to have their NHS treatment done privately.
MPs have said there is no reason to impose these steps, while health organisations said it showed the NHS was biased against private healthcare providers.
A government inquiry is now being held to investigate the actions of almost half the local NHS trusts' management.
Health service patients who require non-urgent operations, such as knee and hip replacement, are able to be treated in private hospitals that have contracts with the NHS to offer the care at NHS prices.
At present, 3.5% of operations are carried out like this, but the government's reform of the health service will increase this percentage.
Recently managers from NHS trusts have tried to put in place restrictive measures that stop patients from being cared for privately.
These measures include reducing the scope of treatments private hospitals can provide to health service patients and the introduction of minimum waiting times to slow down the stream of patients who need treatment.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "There is no justification, either financial or clinical, for PCTs to restrict patient choice and think that they know better than patients or their doctors where patients should be treated."
"Any barriers to patient choice must be removed. In the future, Monitor [the regulator] will have legal powers to address restrictions on patient choice."
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