Magazine article Public Finance

Doctors Break Silence to Attack Private Care

Magazine article Public Finance

Doctors Break Silence to Attack Private Care

Article excerpt

Doctors have attacked the use of private sector treatment centres and claimed the competition could force NHS hospitals to close.

Until now, the British Medical Association has taken a pragmatic stance on using the private sector to reduce waiting lists, believing the initiative would benefit patients and open up opportunities in private practice for its members.

However, its attitude has hardened this week following Health secretary John Reid's announcement that he would spend £lbn procuring 2 million additional diagnostic tests a year for NHS patients.

The procurement is a key element in Reid's plan to reduce patients' total waiting times to 18 weeks by 2008. Many are stuck in a bottleneck waiting for diagnosis and the target will not be achieved if this is not tackled.

'In buying extra capacity from the independent sector, we will significantly increase the NHS-funded diagnostic provision and increase the numbers of expert staff such as radiologists to provide these services for NHS patients, with equal access free at the point of delivery,' he said.

However, BMA deputy chair Sam Everington said private sector diagnosis and surgery was a 'wonderful idea on paper'. …

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