Private patients have full rights to NHS critical care treatment if required, according to a newly ratified protocol.

The agreement was signed by the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services, Department of Health, Intensive Care Society and National Critical Care Stakeholder Forum.

It reiterates the underlying right to free NHS treatment contained in the 1977 NHS Act, which covers patients who are initially treated privately.

The document says that where a patient is transferred from a private provider to an NHS trust, a charge will be made to the hospital or treatment centre for the transfer by the NHS trust.

“It will be the responsibility of the hospital or treatment centre to make provision for payment. A separate charge may be made by the consultant intensivist or consultant responsible for stabilisation and transfer.”

Each independent hospital or independent sector treatment centre must have a written transfer agreement in place with a specific NHS trust for both adult and paediatric transfers.

After NHS treatment, patients can be transferred back to the independent sector with their approval, as long as the appropriate level of care can be provided.