Press Release 16/6/2000
The Socialist Health Association has been dedicated to the development of the National Health Service for the last 70 years. When Alan Milburn says that he wants to use private hospitals for the benefit of NHS patients some of us worry about what he might mean. It is high time that the whole relationship between the NHS and private medicine was sorted out. We want to see a more satisfactory regulation of doctors’ private work and an effective complaints procedure relating to national standards for medical services regardless of where they are delivered. We hope that the Government will be bringing forward detailed proposals to tackle these long neglected issues as part of the national plan.
If private beds are to be used for NHS patients we would want to see proper local consultation to ensure that arrangements are acceptable to the local community.
We would want to be sure that the price charged was no greater than the marginal costs to the NHS of doing the extra work. We have no ideological objection to using private hospital facilities as a short term measure if it is appropriate, but we would be concerned if the use of private medicine became a regular part of the service without much wider debate about the implications.
We would also want to be reassured that CHC members will have full access and visiting rights to inspect and comment upon the premises and services provided, as they are entitled to do in all NHS premises, other than GP surgeries.