NHS hospitals expanding their private work

A recent survey by the British Medical Journal of 134 acute hospital NHS trusts has found that 21 of those trusts have recently introduced private, or ‘self-funded’ services alongside their NHS-funded healthcare offering.

The private offerings include treatments such as IVF treatment, varicose-vein removals and hernia repairs. It is probably unsurprising that these treatments are ones that cash-strapped NHS commissioners now restrict or for which there are long waiting times under the NHS-funded routes.

Critics argue that the infiltration of such ‘pay for’ options has muddied the waters between private care and the NHS, creating what has been coined a ‘two-tier system’ of healthcare. However, this begs two questions: first and foremost, have the healthcare waters been ‘muddied’? And second, even if they are, is that really a problem?…

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