‘Immoral doctors play system’ to see NHS patients in private

The way to stop Private Medicine is to provide an overcapacity of doctors, physiotherapists, dentists etc. The less the capacity (nationally) the more the Perverse Incentives to behave as described. When there is severe undercapacity, choice is only available privately… And of course the Post-Code lottery gets worse for those furthest from specialist care. Many consultants are now less than full time, allowing them to do more private care…

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When Gabrielle Swerling reports in the Times 21st September 2016: ‘Immoral doctors play system’ to see NHS patients in private

NHS consultants are “morally bankrupt” for dragging out appointments so that hospitals are forced to pay them to see patients privately to hit targets, claims an NHS manager.

The accusation came amid a row over plans to make NHS consultants reveal their private earnings to prevent conflicts of interest.

The Royal College of Surgeons has told its members not to be caught on the wrong side of an NHS drive towards greater transparency. “Patients rightly have a huge amount of trust in the medical profession and this guidance will help doctors to act appropriately,” said Clare Marx, the college president.

Lord Winston, the fertility pioneer, however, defended private medicine as medical colleagues promised “fierce resistance” to revealing their earnings.

The Times reported yesterday that NHS clinical staff would have to reveal details of income from private work under plans to ensure that they did not put personal interests before the NHS.

Sir Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England, said that private work could no longer go “under the radar”.

About half the 46,000 NHS consultants are thought to do private work.

An NHS manager in Greater Manchester said that consultants saw half as many patients in their NHS clinics as they saw in private, forcing managers who were under pressure to hit waiting targets to pay private rates.

“A lot of consultants will come and complain about not being able to see patients in a timely manner but will only do additional sessions at higher-enhanced rates via their private practice,” he said. “So they put pressure on management to pay them privately and that is morally bankrupt.”

In a letter to The Times, Lord Winston warns against seeing private work as a threat to the NHS. “When we were improving IVF, our private patients were academically important,” he writes. “Not only did their fees go to support NHS research, these patients were an important research resource for many advancing treatments.”

Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, said: “We should have clear, consistent and effective approaches to managing conflicts of interest”.

•Patients are at risk because NHS wards are operating without enough doctors or nurses, according to a survey by the Royal College of Physicians. Seven in ten junior doctors say they work on permanently short-staffed wards, with more than half claiming that this has an “extremely serious impact on patients”. Andrew Goddard, of the college, said: “It is clear to all of us working in the NHS that we are at a point of no return.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Consultants, Medical Education, Perverse Incentives, Post Code Lottery, Professionals, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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