Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Back Private 'Top-Up' Health Care Scheme

Magazine article Public Finance

MPs Back Private 'Top-Up' Health Care Scheme

Article excerpt

An influential committee of MPs has backed a controversial report recommending that patients be able to 'top up' NHS treatment with private care, despite fears it will result in a two-tier system.

In a May 12 report, the Commons' health select committee endorsed recommendations by Professor Mike Richards, who last November said patients should not forfeit their free care by privately buying drugs not available on the NHS.

The MPs admitted, however, that they had reached their conclusions reluctantly. Committee chair Kevin Barron said he was 'uncomfortable' with the report's implications. Labour committee member Jim Dowd said: 'We couldn't find a system free of anomaly'

Independent MP Dr Richard Taylor said it was a 'least worst' option, and pointed out: 'It's a complete and utter fudge not to recognise that this creates a two-tier system.'

Fellow committee member Peter Bone voted against the report because it recommended that patients paying for extra drugs should be moved to a private treatment area unless their lives were endangered to avoid disparity of care within NHS wards.

Bone said that was 'bureaucratic', and argued that all patients should be treated in the best place for their clinical needs. …

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