Wirral MP speaks out over NHS hospitals being used to treat private patients

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13 Feb 2023
Margaret Greenwood MP has called on the government to put an end to NHS facilities being used to provide services to private patients. 

The Wirral West MP’s intervention comes after reports that NHS Trusts are promoting expensive private healthcare at their hospitals, using NHS facilities to treat private patients.

Margaret Greenwood has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament which raises concerns that this will increase waiting times for NHS patients and that it is leading to a two-tier health system where people who have the means to pay can get treated more quickly, while NHS patients have to wait longer.  

The Health and Social Care Act 2012, which was passed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government, in effect allows NHS Foundation Trusts to earn 49% of their income from treating private patients.  

Before that act was amended during its passage through parliament, it actually set no limit on the amount of money NHS Foundation Trusts could earn from private patients. 

Margaret Greenwood has argued that this demonstrates that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government of the day had initially planned to enable NHS Foundation Trusts to earn as much of their income as they wanted from treating private patients, in effect disregarding NHS patients altogether if they chose to. 

In 2011, the year before the passing of the Act in law, the majority of NHS Foundation Trusts had private income caps of between 0.1% and 2%. 

Margaret Greenwood MP said: 

“It cannot be right that NHS facilities are being used to treat patients privately, while NHS patients are made to wait. 

“This is not in the spirit in which the NHS was created, and I am concerned that it is contributing to the longer waiting lists that we are currently seeing. 

“Changes brought in by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in 2012 have led to NHS Foundation Trusts being able to earn almost half of their income from treating private patients. 

“By handing over the NHS to increased numbers of private patients, the government has chosen to reduce capacity in the NHS. This is truly shocking and morally indefensible. The NHS is paid for through taxation and belongs to all of us. It is not the Conservative Party’s to give away. 

"The government has also failed to provide the staff and resources that the NHS needs and as consequence nurses are working on wards with unsafe staffing levels.  

“I have met people who, in desperation and pain, have ended up paying for treatment and they have been angry at being put in the position where they felt the need to do so, not just because it is expensive, but because they believe in the NHS as a public service. They felt terrible to be put in that position.  

“We need to reinstate the NHS as a comprehensive and universal service.  

“It has served us incredibly well for well over 70 years. The public will not forgive those who undermine it so ruthlessly and cause so much suffering for patients and staff. 

"I have called on the government to put an end to the use of NHS facilities to treat private patients."

Margaret Greenwood MP’s EDM – titled ‘Private treatment at NHS hospitals’ – can be seen in full here: https://tinyurl.com/3e2fsumu

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