Hospital patients are being allowed to pay for treatments that are no longer available for free, the shadow health secretary has claimed.
Andy Burnham said health reforms introduced by David Cameron had led to rationing in the NHS, with some hospitals offering self-funding patients the treatment at standard NHS prices.
Warrington and Halton Hospitals is one foundation trust offering treatments that are no longer funded, at these rates. Other hospitals offering similar deals included Southampton, Chelsea & Westminster and James Paget, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Labour has claimed.
Almost £100m’s worth of private work has been done by NHS hospitals since October 2012, when rules were changed to allow them to generate up to 49 per cent of their income from private patients.
Over the year, hospitals earned £434m from such treatments - up by £47m on the year 2010-11, when David Cameron’s government came into power. Forecasts predict an increase of another £45m to £479m by next year.
The website of Southampton’s general hospital offers a cataract service which operates “between the traditional private sector and the NHS” to make private healthcare more affordable. Cataract surgery is offered to those who feel their vision is affecting their lifestyle but do not meet the required conditions for surgery on the NHS, reports the Mirror.
“Fewer non-urgent services can be paid for by the NHS but we know that patients still want to see our expert staff and be treated within the advanced care environment of a specialist teaching hospital,” the hospital’s website states, adding: “We offer the full range of consultations, investigations and treatments that you would expect from a specialist hospital.”
The power to decide on treatment availability in their area was given by previous health secretary Andrew Lansley to clinical commissioning groups. Some hospitals responded to restrictions by offering patients the opportunity to self-fund treatments.