This is a British report on how and why the privatization of health services is not working in many cases. Some lessons to be learnt for us here in Australia also.
The NHS (Reinstatement) bill received its second reading in parliament last week. Its aim is to reverse the creeping privatisation of our health service.
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act opened up the NHS to competition. Since then, there has been a gradual privatisation of health services, some working well, others less so, covering a range of services from general outpatient work, to physiotherapy, ophthalmology, diagnostic and even children’s services.
In the last few years, in order to reduce waiting times, many of my patients who have been referred to gynaecology have been seen at Spire private hospital in Bristol. A few patients have also chosen to go a bit further away to a private hospital in Bath run by Circle for a wide range of specialities – although these are usually our more mobile patients as most prefer to travel locally to their hospital appointments. The general feedback has largely been similar to the local NHS hospital: overall patients have been happy with their experience.
However, there are other services such as hip and knee operations and general surgery offered on the NHS by private providers such as local treatment centres that have caused some worry among GPs and patients. There are fears that they “cream off” the easy work by seeing the well patients, leaving the more risky cases (needing longer inpatient bed days and with higher complication rates) for the local NHS hospitals. This has certainly been my experience of our local treatment centre run by…