NHS could force patients to go private

Plans to reduce NHS cover could increase the number of patients opting for private treatment according to new government proposals.

Ministers are considering restricting the NHS to core services and encouraging more people to use private healthcare for other treatments as part of a new policy review.

It is expected that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will look at limiting the services that will be provided free of charge via the NHS as well as examining treatments that would be better suited to private healthcare provision and could lead to greater patient choice.

Anna Dixon, deputy director of policy at the King’s Fund think-tank, speaking to the FT, commented: "It sounds like establishing a core package of benefits that the NHS will fund – and that is something that has long been debated in academic circles. But politicians ... have always shied away from being more explicit about entitlements."

However, Ms Dixon added that it could lead to a number of high-profile debates about what should and shouldn't be covered by the NHS or private healthcare.

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