Private hospitals are ‘pushing back’ on requests from NHS trusts to send them more NHS patients, following a change to the national contract with the independent sector, and amid high pressure from COVID-19.
Manchester University Foundation Trust, one of the largest NHS providers, has reported difficulties in accessing capacity at its local Spire, BMI and Ramsay hospitals this month.
It comes as the NHS is facing “unthinkable” pressures from coronavirus patients, with dozens of hospitals on the brink of being overwhelmed.
Throughout most of 2020, the bulk of private providers in England were on a national block contract whereby the NHS could use as much capacity as it needed.
But a new contract, agreed with oversight from the Treasury last month, is now in place between January and April, and only offers trusts a minimum volume of activity which equates to activity provided in October and November.
Pressures on the NHS have since intensified to unprecedented levels, with many areas now in far greater need of the private capacity than they were two months ago.
And there appears to be a misunderstanding or lack of clarity in some areas about the extent to which they can now call on private capacity.
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Source: HSJ, 13 January 2021