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Government should investigate trusts that charge NHS patients for treatment, says Labour

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4711 (Published 10 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4711
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

The government should investigate several trusts that are charging patients for treatment even though they are not private patients, the Labour Party has said.

A squeeze on funding is leading increasing numbers of NHS trusts to offer patients the option of “self funding” certain treatments and procedures, including in vitro fertilisation. The Labour Party said that the practice breaks the principle of the NHS being free at the point of delivery.

However, the trusts involved have said that the practice was not new and was being introduced as a result of commissioning decisions being made by primary care trusts regarding what should and should not be funded, rather than an issue of hospital practice.

An investigation by the Sunday Times published on 8 July found that several trusts were inviting patients to pay for certain treatments that they would otherwise have to wait a long time for or be refused, because their local primary care trust would not fund them.

The trusts involved are Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London; Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey; University Hospitals …

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