Hospitals allow patients to top up care and continue to get NHS treatment

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 15 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2112
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

    At least 30 hospitals throughout the United Kingdom are using a loophole in rules to allow patients to buy top-up care that their trusts will not fund without jeopardising their patients’ NHS care.

    The Department of Health’s guidance A Code of Conduct for Private Practice, issued in April 2003, advises trusts not to allow patients to pay for drugs privately while having NHS treatment. Those patients who choose to buy treatment outside the NHS should then have to pay for all of their treatment privately, it says.

    But Nick James, professor of clinical oncology at Birmingham University and consultant in oncology at the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, told the BMJ that he had been allowing patients to top up their care for years.

    “In fact I have been puzzled by …

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