Call to have more NHS work in private units

Private doctors’ should be offered more NHS work in independent hospitals under Government plans outlined last month by Health and Social Care Secretary Therese Coffey.

Now the Independent Health­care Providers Network (IHPN) is pressing for the policy to be fast-tracked.

Responding to the Government’s ‘Our Plan For Patients’ report, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, IHPN chief executive David Hare welcomed her pledge to maximise the use of independent sector capacity and ensure patients can choose the fastest possible treatment. 

But with NHS waiting lists at record levels and set to rise even further, he said it was ‘vital’ that this and other commitments in the policy document were quickly implemented.

He added: ‘Recent IHPN research conducted with the Patients Association found that, across England, patients need to travel just 13.2 miles – around 30 minutes by car – to cut over three-and-a-half months off their NHS waiting time by choosing an alternative provider. 

‘But with almost half of the public unaware of these rights, much more needs to be done to ensure the public are fully aware of the choices available to them, and we look forward to working with the Government to ensure all blockers to patient choice are removed and that the independent sector can play its full role in the elective recovery.’

Earlier last month, the private healthcare sector was pleased to hear news that patients will be able to use the NHS app to shop around for hospitals with the shortest waiting lists.

Mr Hare said this should ‘urgently be made a reality so that NHS patients aren’t left languishing’.

He was responding to NHS performance figures showing a record 6.8m people are waiting for NHS elective care. 

Mr Hare said record NHS waiting list underlined the need for the Health and Social Care Secretary to take urgent action to tackle the growing backlog of care and get a grip of the growing crisis in the NHS.