NHS will pay for more patients to have treatment at private hospital

NHS will pay for more patients to undergo treatment at private hospital in bid to cut backlog

  • More NHS patients will be sent to private hospitals to reduce record waiting lists
  • Around six per cent of care in October was private – 450,000 appointments 
  • Nineteen community diagnostic centres announced to reduce Covid backlog 
  • Health Secretary Steve Barclay said NHS facing ‘unprecedented challenge’  

More NHS patients will be sent to private hospitals for treatment as health bosses ‘turbocharge’ efforts to tackle record waiting lists.

Steve Barclay has formed a taskforce of academics and experts from the NHS and private sector to advise him on the best ways of slashing long waits.

It will meet for the first time today and focus on how the Health Secretary can make best use of spare capacity in private hospitals.

The independent sector delivered over 450,000 appointments in October alone – equal to around 6 per cent of all NHS care – but this could be dramatically ramped up.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he wanted to ‘turbo-charge’ plans to reduce waiting lists by sending more NHS patients to private practitioners 

A record 7.1million people are currently on NHS waiting lists, with the number rocketing during the pandemic

Patients do not have to pay for their treatment when sent to private hospitals, as the bill is paid for from existing health budgets and comes at no extra cost to the NHS. 

A record 7.1million people are currently on NHS waiting lists, with the number rocketing during the pandemic as non-urgent operations were postponed.

The Elective Recovery Taskforce will help the NHS eliminate 18-month wait lists by April 2023 and those longer than a year by March 2025.

It comes as the Government announces 19 community diagnostic centres, to deliver more X-ray, CT and MRI scans, as well as checks and tests.

These will be located in the likes of football stadiums and shopping centres, to make it easier for patients to get the diagnoses they need.

Mr Barclay said: ‘The NHS is facing an unprecedented challenge to tackle Covid backlogs.

‘Hardworking staff have made strong progress but I want to turbo-charge our current plans to bust the backlog and help patients get the treatment they need. The taskforce will look at sensible steps to utilise all existing capacity to slash waiting lists while ensuring the NHS always remains free at the point of use.’

Health Minister Will Quince said the government are ‘relentlessly focused’ on reducing waiting lists and improving NHS care

NHS hospitals are currently unable to admit patients at the rate they would like as 13,000 beds are filled with people who have been declared medically fit for discharge but are waiting for a care home place or help washing, cooking or dressing in their own home.

Health minister Will Quince, who will lead the meeting in Downing Street, said: ‘We are relentlessly focused on tackling waiting lists and busting the Covid backlogs and this new taskforce will bring together experts from across the healthcare system. 

‘Doing so will ensure we’re using all the capacity available to us to improve care across the NHS and independent sector, and give patients more autonomy over when and where they are treated.’

Knee and hip replacement and eye surgery are among the most common procedures performed in private hospitals on behalf of the NHS.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: ‘We strongly welcome the establishment of a new taskforce to look at how the NHS can turbo-charge its use of the independent sector to tackle the elective care backlog.

Ciaran Norris, head of campaigns and public affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘Cancer care across England is desperately-needed and today’s announcement is a positive first step that comes not a moment too soon’.

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