NHS pays £35m a month to private hospitals17th December 2010
New figures show that the NHS is paying private hospitals £35m a month to treat patients.
That represents a rise of more than 60% in a year and has led some doctors to question whether it is a luxury the health service cannot really afford in the current economic climate.
Data for October showed the NHS paid for about 17,000 patients to have non-emergency care under the patient choice scheme, which allows patients to choose where they want to be treated.
This cost – of £34.7m – compares with the October 2009 figures for 12,283 patients of £21.6m.
Paul Flynn of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee said: “We have to wonder whether this is an expensive luxury for the NHS at the moment. It is facing a tough time financially and it is perhaps the right time to rethink this.
“The risk is that it will destabilise NHS trusts. It is growing and you can see why private providers are interested at a time when things like private healthcare insurance is feeling the pressure of the downturn.”
The BMA is concerned at the wisdom of the scheme with hospital income linked to how many patients they see.
The Department of Health maintained patient choice was fundamental to a truly patient-centred health service.
He said: “Choice doesn't just benefit those patients who choose to go to a particular hospital. It gives hospitals a strong incentive to tailor services to the specific needs and preferences of all patients which, in turn, should lead to better outcomes and the reduction of health inequalities.”
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Title: NHS pays £35m a month to private hospitals
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 17075
Date Added: 17th Dec 2010