Patients are being ‘forced’ to pay for treatment
Many patients are having to pay for hospital treatments that have previously been available on the NHS. In recent years strict rationing
has meant that hospitals have cut the number of treatments that they are able to carry out for free. These include hip and knee replacements, eye procedures, varicose vein surgery and IVF, which were previously routinely available.
The number of patients in England waiting for routine hospital treatment on the NHS has reached a six-year high. There are currently 3.2 million people awaiting surgery, scans or other treatments, a rise of 700,000 from April 2010. Many hospitals now require that patients are in significant pain or have seriously reduced mobility or sight, before they agree to operate.
Critics say that while those who can afford to pay are treated immediately, those who can’t are pushed further and further back in the ever-lengthening queue.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said:
“Since the foundation of the NHS there has been an underlying ethos that good quality healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth or status. The system has always been based upon three core principles: that it meets the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.
We are hearing increasingly on our Helpline that many patients are struggling to access treatments and tests. This is often because they cannot jump through all the necessary bureaucratic hoops to be considered “eligible” or because treatments have been entirely withdrawn from the NHS. In many cases patients will not even be aware that they are being denied treatment due to rationing.
It is simply unacceptable that patients are left with no option other than to pay for expensive private treatment. It is also of great concern that hospitals are appearing to use their private income as a way of boosting their finances. Adequate funding and proper management is vital to the survival of the NHS and it is time that the political parties start to address the scale of the financial pressures and bring this to public debate. Once again, it is patients who are having to bear the brunt of cuts.”
Hospital Parking Charges
Hospital parking charges and fines continue to frustrate patients across England. Many patient groups and individuals up and down the country have called for trusts to either scrap charges or place a cap on them. The Patients Association continues to hear from patients who are angry about the current situation, which many feel is an unfair tax on the sick.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said,
“We have been concerned about hospital car parking charges and fines for many years. We receive many calls to our Helpline from patients who are outraged that hospitals are using this as an opportunity to bring in funds.
Going to hospital can be stressful and patients do not need further stress by having to worry about the cost of parking or about any fines that they may incur. Many hospital appointments frequently over-run, particularly those involving specialist treatments such as chemotherapy. It is not fair that these patients should be worried about rushing back to their cars to top-up the meter in such a situation.
Hospitals should be properly supported by the Government without having to rely on charging and fining patients and visitors to make ends meet. Car parking charges make a mockery of a service supposedly free at the point of need and we urge the Department of Health to scrap this policy, and end this charge on being sick.”
Trust reveals huge waiting list
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust has a huge - previously unreported - waiting list
of more than 90,000 patients. An investigation into waiting times performance at the Trust found that 92,236 patients had not started treatment at the end of August 2014, 61,143 of which had been waiting longer than the national 18 week limit.
The trust had not reported its waiting list since January because of data validity issues, identified when a new patient administration system was introduced in December.
Chief Executive, Matthew Hopkins, said there were “significant issues” with the way in which the Trust manages its waiting time data. He said:
“This is completely unacceptable and, as the new chief executive, I am absolutely determined that all our patients are seen as quickly as possible. We will be contacting patients affected with their new appointment dates and providing extra operations at both Queen’s and King George hospitals to tackle this as a priority.”
Hospital chiefs urged to tackle A&E crowding
The College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) has warned that up to half a million patients could be put at risk every year as hospitals struggle to admit patients from bursting A&E departments. As many as 500,000 patients across the UK could see their situation deteriorate as a consequence of “exit blocking”. Exit blocking occurs when A&E doctors recommend that a patient should be allocated a hospital bed but they are unable to be admitted in a reasonable time frame.
CEM president Dr Clifford Mann said:
“This is such an important issue. It is about the flow of patients from ambulances, through A&Es and into hospital wards. The simple fact is that crowding kills. It is simply not acceptable to let this situation continue which is why we are speaking out to urge hospital chief executives and their boards to make sure they have plans to deal with this issue.”
- The Patient’s Association is currently working with the College of Emergency Medicine on a project to try and gain a better understanding of public awareness of emergency care. If you would like to take part in our survey, please click on this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CEMPAsurvey . All information supplied will be held by the Patient Association and the College of Emergency Medicine and will remain secure and confidential.
- The Patients Association is setting up a service user focus group for undergraduate and postgraduate dietetics and nutrition courses for London Metropolitan University. The focus group will run once or twice a year and will enable service users to consult and approve policies and processes regarding student marketing, selection and recruitment, and in addition, consult and approve any new changes to the strategic aims and delivery of the course. We would also like members of the group to assess students undertaking a role play of group education sessions. We are looking for patients and their carers who have had contact with dietetic services in London or surrounding areas and are interested in influencing future training. A contribution towards your time, and travel expenses, will be made to participants and their carers. To register an interest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Health Service Journal is hosting a webinar to discuss the new Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection regime. As the CQC prepares to publish its definitive methodology for its new inspections this autumn, debate about the regime and its sustainability continue to rage. On Wednesday 8th October, HSJ will bring together leading figures including Sir Mike Richards, the chief inspector for hospitals, for a webinar debate about the challenges and successes of the new regime. The webinar will take place from 12.30pm-1.15pm on the 8th October. You can register for the webinar here