AXA PPP welcomes the greater flexibility shown in the Department of Health’s newly published guidance on NHS patients who wish to pay for additional private care. We are pleased that the Department has taken account of consultation and recognised that there will be instances where patients would be harmed by too strict a view on separation of care.
We are pleased also that the Department has so clearly stated that the underlying principle informing its guidance is that there should be no cross subsidy of patients’ private care by the NHS and vice versa.
The original draft guidelines made much of the potential for conflicts of interest (real or perceived) for NHS clinicians and the need for robust systems and processes to ensure all NHS funding opportunities (including exceptional funding) are exhausted before suggesting a patient’s only option is to pay for care privately.
It appears to us that the Department has given too much weight to PCT concerns that they will be inundated with increased funding requests (albeit we believe that dealing with such requests is a key part of their job); the guidance as it stands puts the onus on oncologists to be mindful of the PCTs’ funding positions, including what exceptions may be considered, and to keep their knowledge of this current.
Even if this was practical, given that any particular oncologist may have patients from many PCTs, it is not clear how patients can be assured that all routes of NHS funding have been explored and the issue of conflicts of interest resolved.
We consider that the responsibility for informing patients of their PCT’s position on funding is that of the PCT – PCTs therefore should receive all requests for funding and develop efficient and effective methods of communicating their decisions to the population they serve.