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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Rules on NHS top up to be announced

4 November, 2008  

A framework that will allow NHS patients to “top up” their care with private treatments is set to be unveiled.

Professor Mike Richards will outline the findings of a review on the practice, which sparked controversy after it was banned by the government.

The report looks into what support is available to patients who run out of money and the terms that can be set between drug companies and the NHS.

Last month it emerged that about 1,000 patients a year were already topping up their NHS care with private drugs.

Current government rules state that a patient cannot be both an NHS patient and a private patient in the same episode of care.

To get round the problem, some NHS hospitals have been allowing patients to see a consultant and treating that as one episode of care.

Another consultant has then written a private prescription for the drugs, which have been supplied to the patient’s home by a private firm.

NHS Confederation director of policy, Nigel Edward, called for NHS patient safeguards, saying: “This change in policy is welcome and helps deal with a situation which had become insupportable.

“But allowing private payments alongside NHS care cannot be allowed to become the thin end of the wedge – no-one wants a two-speed health service and this should not become a step in that direction.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

NHS Confederation