POLL: Is it safe to hand NHS operations over to private healthcare?

NHS bosses have told hospitals to pass some scheduled surgery to the private sector, it has been reported [Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA].

NHS bosses have told hospitals to pass some scheduled surgery to the private sector, it has been reported [Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA].

I think this is the stupidest idea yet, in a long list of boneheaded ideas that Tories have had about the National Health Service in England. I suspect Jeremy Hunt is behind it.

(It has to be a Tory idea, doesn’t it? No NHS professional in their right mind would make such a suggestion? Or do you know otherwise? If so, please name names in the comment column.)

It is only a matter of days since This Writer pointed out that the National Health Service takes 6,000 patients per year from private hospitals, in order to put right botched operations.

The cost of this corrective surgery is £100,000 each time, meaning the public purse is paying £600 million every year to put right botched private operations.

And we’re told the NHS will pay private providers – handsomely – for what may be a wholly sub-standard service.

Only yesterday, a good friend of mine told me about a relative of his who had a hysterectomy at a private hospital – because the waiting list for it on the NHS was too long.

She started complaining of pain immediately after the operation and was eventually admitted to an NHS hospital for an emergency corrective operation – in which doctors found a rolled-up cloth had been left in her abdomen.

If that is the kind of treatment a paying patient can expect from private healthcare, what can NHS patients expect?

Not only that, but we’re being told that thousands of patients will be discharged to relieve the demand for hospital beds; this clearly indicates that they will be sent home too soon.

If I were one of the patients affected, or a member of their family, I would want to see the evidence supporting any such discharge. What support will be in place for them after they are removed from the hospital setting and how quickly can they expect help if complications arise?

There seems to be no information about that.

So it is time for another couple of POLLS!

Here’s the first:

And here’s the second:

I’ll publish the initial results in 24 hours’ time – around 2pm on November 27.

Hospitals have been told to discharge thousands of patients and pass some scheduled surgery to private organisations to reduce pressure ahead of a potential winter crisis, it was reported.Leaked memos also revealed that managers have been banned from declaring black alerts, the highest level, when hospital services are unable to cope with demand, the Daily Telegraph said.

The newspaper claimed instructions were sent by NHS England and the regulator NHS Improvement last month to reduce the levels of bed occupancy in hospitals, which are the most crowded they have ever been ahead of winter.

In the three months to the end of September, 89.1% of acute and general beds were full, compared with 87% last year, prompting the order for hospital trusts to take the drastic measures.

The goal is to reduce occupancy levels down to the recommended safe limit of 85% from December 19 to January 16, the Telegraph said.

Source: Send patients to private sector to avert winter crisis, hospitals told | Society | The Guardian

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20 thoughts on “POLL: Is it safe to hand NHS operations over to private healthcare?

  1. Tony Dean

    I am in the other category for both questions.
    My wife has just had an angiogram in a private hospital paid for by the NHS, BUT the A&E department of an NHS hospital is just a few yards away.
    As for discharging patients early to free up hospital beds, that very much depends on how much back-up, family/community help they have, until they are capable of looking after themselves safely.

    1. Florence

      The reason bed blocking happens (a dreadful term, but we’re stuck with it) is precisely because there are not sufficient resources in the care system for people to be discharged even well past a safe discharge date. If these ppl did have any care they would not be bed blocking as the modern hospital is not a comfortable place to be, even for those who need some degree of care. No one wants to stay in any longer than necessary.

  2. jaguarjon

    Early discharge: It’s a case-by-case decision. The massive and growing bed-blocking is the result of several botched ideas coming together.
    One: the Government has cut the number of beds overall, drastically.
    Two: they have cut social services resulting in all kinds of knock-ons such as: a huge rise in admissions for malnutrition (benefit cuts), mental health patients with no other place to go, elderly patients ditto, re-admissions of patients discharged too early….
    Hunt says there’s an unprecedented increase in the use of services. True. He should know. He and his gang have created the increase.

    1. Florence

      So glad you mentioned malnutrition. In hospitals where there are trained staff who recognise malnutrition they are finding the majority of the elderly admitted are malnourished. This is instrumental in many of the illnesses that are the initial reason for hospitalization, and a major reason many take so long to recover enough to go home. Only once this situation arises are the care services forced to provide care to these people who have often been denied basic care to keep them well and in their homes.

  3. Pete Riches

    I’m interpreting this absurd, dangerous, reckless tactic as the Tories’ devious, underhanded plan to test the water for their NHS Final Solution, and to gradually condition the comatose public into accepting this as the new normal, because “Hey! The NHS is collapsing of its own accord (oh… and immigrants, obviously), and Hollywood movies always portray the American healthcare system as absolutely fabulous and we all know that America is Great again, so we’ll copy them because we’re drooling morons”.

    I wonder how long it will be before it is forbidden to report or leak news of people dying, or being seriously damaged by incompetent private healthcare providers whose shoddy work has to be repaired by our wonderful NHS at the public’s expense? We have a rough idea what these dangerous cowboys are costing the NHS at the moment, but as they get their claws into greater numbers of innocent victims, that cost will rocket and the government will need to completely shut down worried critics and whistleblowers.

    The most insidious, disgraceful aspect of this for me is the government silencing NHS hospitals from declaring black alerts, which usually bring the press into the picture and alert the nation. Questions get asked (except by the BBC, of course), and these Tories will not tolerate being questioned by the proletariat.

    Many of these disgusting blood-sucking providers are slipping the Tories hundreds of thousands of pounds under the table every year for their place at the pig trough, and as the nation’s public healthcare crisis worsens I’d expect the corrupt link between financial bribes (let’s call it what it is) from off-shored vampires and government patronage will become so toxic that the Tories will move heaven and earth to misdirect growing public anger.

  4. Christine Cullen

    This is already happening in SW London where the Tories are threatening to allow the closure of 1 of 4 large hospitals in this busy area. In Dec 2015 I was offered knee replacement surgery in a Surrey private hospital paid for by the NHS because of the waiting list, but on principle I waited another month to have the surgery done in an NHS hospital. Some friends thought I was mad until I told them about what having principles means, and about this very issue of unexpected emergencies, and that under the NHS my surgeon was the senior lead in knee surgery whereas I knew nothing about the private hospital surgeon. This is a very big can of worms.

  5. david

    If you’d seen what I saw in the private sector you’d be very concerned [but then I was gagged so can’t actually say what], then again in the 90’s the private sector was charging £1 per paracetamol tablet – hate to think what they’d charge the NHS no especially as it will be a captive market

  6. Carol

    I think it depends on what type of operation/procedure we’re talking about and which hospitals will be used. Also, I seem to remember that the last Labour government used the private sector to reduce waiting lists.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      So what? You don’t justify a wrong action by pointing out that someone else has done the same thing.

  7. Dez

    Attila the Hunt needs to be admitted into a mental institution asap…..if they had any beds left. That Hunt is totally obsessed with privatisation which is some cases is probably worse service than the NHS and certainly a total waste of money should the captains of the NHS actually care about value for money. Most of the leaders and managements are already preparing for their early retirement and quick reinstatement back into the game or waiting for their promotions when the privatisation hammer falls ….. as it certainly will. Theresa May, or May not,
    has a lot to answer for in letting this madman continue in post having spewed out her lies on the steps of No 10 that the Cons are here for everybody…..she knew his form past and present and therefore from her point of view this guy was singing from her two faced hymn sheet. Most astute leaders would have got shot of him first opportunity, from his awful form to date, however her retaining this Hunt reinforces just what her hidden agenda and thinking really is…….once a Con always a Con.

  8. Barry Davies

    I suppose it depends on what is designated a health care professional no doubt the administrators at the top of the pile would describe themselves as such but as we have seen they are only concerned about the bottom line it quantity not quality that matters in their figure driven world, many Doctors have a foot in both camps already, and even some nurses chose to work for agencies because they can earn the same amount, although the purchasers have to pay at least double for their services, without having to accept rubbish shifts or to have to take any responsibility for the everyday running of the place they are working in.

  9. Christine Standing

    I’m not gagged, David. I saw people getting a visit from the finance department and being asked to leave their beds and transfer or get out. Distressing either way. To put the words “care” and “profit” together says it all really.

  10. tellthetruth1

    Operations handed over to private health companies: I could, apparently, have an operation done on my spine, according to what a GP said, which might improve its function. However, no one has ever been interested enough to take a full history! When a patient is in agony because of arthritis and asks the X-Ray department to take a picture of the spine that’s causing the pain, and that patient is told: We can’t do that, it’s against the law…you very suddenly don’t want anyone coming near you at all. I oughta know. That’s what happened to me.

    I have had so many mistakes made in my own situation, and when my husband became ill, we were left completely alone to cope alone, until his third health crisis last year (2015) when help finally arrived for us both. As things stand, right now – I’d rather continue to look after myself like I’ve had to, for many years.

    This sort of thing is still going on. Only a new government will change it, if they even can.

  11. Dan Delion

    By all means use private sector for NHS overflow, BUT only if contract specifies Outcome Based Commissioning (as for our CCG) with payment made only if result is at NHS standard – and penalties if a botched job has to be returned to NHS for correction.

  12. Laura

    I think it’s OK to send a patient home early as long as they’re not alone and/or can get back to hospital quickly if needed.

    I have brittle asthma and can be triggered by something as simple as cold air, you can imagine how at risk I am when it’s – 5° outside, but I have my other half with me most of them time and I’m only 3 miles away from the hospital should I need medical attention. If rather be at home relaxing and recovering than in hospital, I’d especially when someone’s need for that bed could be far greater than my own.

  13. Aaron Gray

    Is it safe and ethical to keep patients who are ready for discharge in hospital beds and what must this do for someones moral and dignity and trust in the care system after discharge ?

  14. Expendables

    I womessageuld say this is Obama care for the UK so I have 5-7 seizures in one day I am rushed to ED admitted to the ward, tests and obs done, I now know I have trigermenial artery vertebraebasilar hypoplasia and fibrous dyplasia, including being epileptic with muscle and nerve problems.

    Then the doctors discharge me when I have excruciating pain in my stomach and did no operation or corrective surgery from my MRIs and CT scan? Think I need to put in a claim for clinical negligence to say.

    Those patients who are discharged early without appropriate medical care anda attention, rather than being in a medicine supermarket, should definitely claim a refund!

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