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Private hospitals profit from NHS

11th October 2006

08092006_c_section1.jpgNHS spending in the private hospital industry reached an all-time high last year, and is expected to continue to rise dramatically.

Figures from healthcare sector analysts Laing & Buisson reveal that income for the private health industry rose by eight per cent to £2.7bn last year, and most of the rise coming from the NHS. Five years ago NHS spending on private treatments was negligible, but by 2005 it made up 12 per cent of total revenue in the private sector.  Laing & Buisson say this will almost triple, with income from the NHS on target to reach £1bn. This suggests a quarter of beds in private hospitals will be used by NHS patients.

Private beds are used to shore up NHS capacity and help hospitals reach their waiting list figure, and has been increasing year on year for the past five years. While many may disagree with increased use of the private sector, the NHS money has shored up an industry hit by lowered NHS waiting lists, meaning less people are prepared to pay for private treatment, or meet the cost of rising private medical insurance premiums. The report reveals health service spending on controversial independent sector treatment centres soared to £335m in 2005, boosting NHS capacity and cutting waits for NHS patients.

The ISTC programme, originally considered a temporary measure to cut waits, is now expected to increase to treat around 150,000 patients a year, mostly non-urgent operations, including cataract and hip and knee replacements.

 

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