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NHS “will not be a two-tier system”

A two-tier NHS will not be the inevitable result of allowing patients to top up their care with private treatment, the government has insisted.

It has been reported that the part-privatisation of care would see both sets of patients receiving unequal treatment in the same ward.

But Professor Mike Richards has told the Commons Health Select Committee that although the two groups may be treated in the same hospital, they would be seen in different parts of the building.

The so-called “cancer tsar” has authored a report that paves the way for patients to continue receiving NHS care while paying privately for medicines not approved for general use.

Regarding fears that the NHS would have to pick up the bill if private treatments go wrong, he said that this had always been the case.

He also said that patients will not only have to pay for non-NHS drugs, but also any ancillary tests and treatment, staff costs, follow-up care and the use of NHS equipment.

He said that local primary care trusts are now looking at how the new system will work at ward level.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Richards report