From the TUC

NHS: 49% cap is a threat to us all

16 Jan 2012, by in Public services

Today the Commons is debating the Government’s plans to increase the cap on NHS hospitals ability to raise private income to 49%. It currently varies from hospital to hospital but is, on average, 1.1% so this represents a massive increase.

Now some commentators have said that this is better than the original proposal to remove the cap entirely and that, in any case, almost no hospitals will get anywhere near that as there is not a market for a wholesale increase in private health provision in the current economic climate.

That misses the point however. The government is not trying to meet a market demand, it is trying to create one.

Cash-strapped NHS hospitals will try to help solve their financial difficulties by boosting the private sector. This creates a conflict of interest as it creates an incentive to try to get as many patients as they can to go private. It is also likely that the private patients will be those with “straightforward” procedures” that will be the most profitable, rather than those that are more complex and less profitable. This will certainly mean than there will be less resources available for NHS patients who are on waiting lists for these routine procedures.

In addition, because the cap is a cap on income rather than patients, individual NHS hospitals will gain a financial interest in benefiting from any medical developments and research. At present  there are rules that govern how NHS intellectual property is used to ensure that the whole NHS benefits from new treatments developed in one trust. This common good of both the NHS and the patients will be undermined if hospitals can patent and licence any new procedures or treatments.

Let’s not forget the difference between the NHS and the private sector. The NHS was set up so that access to health care would be based on need rather than ability to pay. The private sector is there to make a profit. Creeping privatisation undermines the whole ethos of the NHS and universal healthcare free for all becomes secondary to making money for a few.

2 Responses to NHS: 49% cap is a threat to us all

  1. Terence Dunn
    Jan 17th 2012, 3:35 pm

    We are alrteady seeing the effects of Pvt. V’s NHS , withe fiasco over PIP breast Implants , A Harley practice say they cannot afford to hekp their patients who had breast implants done by them , as they would go broke ? they want the NHS to shoulder the burden for remedial operations ? How many other businesses could get the Taxpayer to pay for their failure/s ? keep trhe NHS and Private Healthcare totally separate , or the greedy rich will drain the resources of the NHS , leaving the poor people up the creek without a paddle !

  2. Peter Lucas
    Jan 18th 2012, 10:06 am

    Why is this government now seemingly aided by the Opposition determined not to compell those that were “on watch” making a visible and meaningful contribution to our financial recovery? Privatisation of public services in the past(water, electricity,gas, telephone, rail to name a few has led to poorer more expensive provision with no-one benefitting except the usual gougers. This government have no mandate to encourage widespread private takeover of the publicly owned NHS in the same way they had no right to sell off publicly owned utilities. Its a fraud and should be challenged at the highest level with everything we have got.