Patients will be encouraged to choose private hospitals for NHS care under plans to help clear backlogs of routine operations through outsourcing more treatment.
A task force of private healthcare bosses and NHS chiefs met in Downing Street for the first time yesterday in an effort to find more capacity for hip replacements, cataracts and other routine procedures in the independent sector. NHS bosses are hopeful of meeting a target to eliminate waits of more than 18 months by April, but there is increasing concern in government about whether one-year waits can be eliminated by 2025 as planned.
Private hospitals say they have spare capacity that could help bring down waits but NHS bosses have been sceptical. Patients have long had a legal right to choose where they are treated but ministers are planning a fresh push for GPs to offer them the choice of having NHS treatment in private hospitals, in a revival of a Blair-era scheme.
Steve Barclay, the health secretary, said he wanted to “turbocharge our current plans to bust the backlog and help patients get the treatment they need”.
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Source: The Times, 8 December 2022