Reports by Robin Stride
A prominent consultant orthopaedic surgeon hit out at the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA’s) failure to include private medical insurers in its drive to improve information for patients.
‘You are pricing out the more experienced doctors. There is no reward for experience, no regard for expertise in a particular sector. It is completely unacceptable.’ MS SUSAN ALEXANDER, orthopaedic surgeon
Ms Susan Alexander, who chairs the Independent Doctors Federation (IDF) education committee, said clinicians generally were not against data being collected, but it had to be a complete picture of the whole health journey.
And this was not happening, she claimed.
She told the conference: ‘The CMA has put up a screen, if you like, and said we are not going to look at that side of the market. But it is not the full picture, because the whole point of healthcare is about safety first from a clinician’s point of view; quality and then choice.
‘But patients are not being offered a proper sense of choice, because what the insurers are doing is they are putting a chokehold on the market.
‘They are driving policies whereby you can see certain consultants who they label as platinum consultants, but the inference there is that the rest of the consultant body are not that good – which is just not right.’
Ms Alexander warned that the effects of high inflation was getting the consultant body angry and specialists did not know if they could continue sustaining a quality service at the insurance fee offered.
‘In 1999 in my particular field, a procedure would cost £589. Just with inflation costs today that should be £1,005, but what we are getting remunerated now is £550 – less than last century.’
Addressing insurers, she complained that the market was being driven down so only a few doctors could take part.
‘So you are pricing out the more experienced doctors. There is no reward for experience, no regard for expertise in a particular sector. It is completely unacceptable.
‘You would not have this in another industry. It is like buying holiday insurance and saying “Well, you can only go to certain countries and – oh,by the way – the pilot who is taking you there… year one, should be fine – as long as you don’t have turbulence”. Go figure!
‘It’s not OK. It’s scandalous what’s happening.’
Her comments received the strongest applause of the day.