NHS patients are being charged as much as £8,500 for operations at a UK hospital, sparking outrage and claims “privatisation is already here”.
Worried patients fear that it’s the first step towards full privatisation – but health bosses claim not all healthcare services are funded by the NHS
Patients have raised concerns over the cost of surgeries under the My Choice programme at NHS Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust.
They must pay just under £8,500 for revision of knee replacement surgery, £7,000 for hip replacement surgery or hip resurfacing, and £2,000 for a circumcision.
The Trust introduced the My Choice system in 2013 for patients who had been denied varicose vein procedures, procedures have now been expanded to include several more operations, the Liverpool Echo reports.
A shocking price list for an NHS hospital has sparked patient fears that ‘privatisation is already here.’
Patients have expressed concerns at the price list now in place at NHS Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust – which means patients now paying as much as £8,500 for some operations.
The Trust introduced the My Choice system in 2013, initially just for patients who had been denied varicose vein procedures.
But from 2018, the list of procedures being marketed for thousands of pounds has become hugely extended – to include operations like knee and hip replacements, hernia treatments, carpal tunnel operations, steroid injections and even treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding.
The Trust says its My Choice service offers an ‘affordable, self-pay’ service for patients denied NHS procedures classified by commissioners to be ‘low clinical priority.’
It adds: “Originally created in 2013 to enable patients denied varicose vein procedures, the service has been significantly extended to include the large number of procedures no longer available on the NHS.
“As well as enabling affordable, convenient access for our patients, this will enable the Trust to make use of spare capacity and will generate additional income for the hospitals.”
NHS hospital charges
A sample of the procedures being marketed is below:
- Revision of knee replacement surgery – £8,447
- Hip replacement surgery – £7,060
- Hip resurfacing – £7,060
- Circumcision – £2,000
- Removal of haemorrhoidal skin tags – £1,319
- Consultations – £180
- Removal of adenoids – £1,931
- Ear pinning – £2,331
- Surgical treatment of hernias without symptoms – £2,541
- Dilation and curettage – £1,187
The Trust insists My Choice is not a private patients service, stating: “All procedures are carried out as part of the Trust’s normal elective programme.”
But while the Trust may point out that the prices on offer are lower than those offered by private health providers – others have expressed concern at what they feel is a move to privatisation in the NHS.
Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury said he was told the contract for the urgent care unit at the hospital would no longer be provided by its existing NHS supplier.
In response to the criticisms, Mel Pickup, chief executive of the Trust, said: “The Trust does not charge NHS patients for NHS funded procedures. Not all healthcare services are funded by the NHS.
“These services are referred to as criteria based clinical treatments (previously called procedures of low clinical priority).
“It is not the role of hospitals to determine which services are funded and which are not. This is the role of NHS commissioners. Therefore where a patient wishes to have a procedure that is not funded by the NHS they can approach the private sector.
“Therefore, the Trust, like the majority of hospitals is now offering self-funding procedures to their patients.
“The Trust launched the My Choice service in September 2018, a self-pay service to enable access for our patients for these services.
“Also included on the list are procedures which are available on the NHS with strict criteria set by the commissioners.
“By offering them via our My Choice service it makes them more accessible for patients who otherwise would not qualify for them under commissioner guidelines.
“My Choice enables patients to pay (self-fund) to have these procedures undertaken at our hospitals based on the national NHS price.
“As well as enabling affordable, convenient access for patients, this will enable the Trust to generate additional income to support our other NHS services.”