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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Patients allowed to top up treatment

12th September 2008

Further reform to the UK’s healthcare system is set to see patients allowed to pay for top up care in addition to their NHS treatment.

The review being conducted by the government's national cancer adviser Professor Mike Richards is expected next month to approve top up payments for cancer and certain other treatments.

This is despite concerns that the move may create a two-tier NHS, even though top up payments are already allowed in dental and optical care.

Health secretary Alan Johnson ordered the review earlier this summer following protests from NHS cancer patients who were told they could not pay privately for cancer drugs that had been rejected, or not yet assessed, by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Current rules mean that patients who buy drugs privately are excluded from receiving the rest of their care on the NHS, and must pay the full cost.

At a meeting hosted by the King's Fund to debate the issue leading figures in the health service raised concerns about top ups without explicitly opposing them.

Professor Richards said there was "distaste" at the idea of people being denied NHS care but added: "It is not possible to find a solution that meets everyone's aspirations."

The King's Fund, the health policy think tank, has called for change and said that it felt the policy prohibiting top-up payments for drugs was "untenable".

Other organisations including the British Medical Association, the NHS Confederation, and the Royal College of Nursing have also reluctantly supported top up payments.


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