News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Private providers must be stopped from skimming off easy cases

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 24 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:691
  1. Rebecca Coombes
  1. London

The UK government needs to act urgently to stop private providers of NHS services “cream-skimming” the less difficult cases, MPs warned this week.

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, in a report of its inquiry into choice in public services, said government plans to bring private companies to heel were so far “sketchy and inadequate.”

The concerns are about reforms due in December 2005 (although schemes are already in operation on a smaller scale), when all patients will be given a choice of hospital for elective treatment. The choice may include non-NHS facilities. Under the new funding system for acute hospital trusts, called payment by results, the NHS loses money if patients opt to go elsewhere. The new system lays down a fixed tariff for every operation, so a …

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