The Great Debate UK
The private healthcare sector is booming. Cut backs in the NHS mean more people are taking out health insurance and looking to private hospitals to provide their care.
In May a private hospital in Berkshire introduced a new ‘GP’ service, which will see patients paying £95 for a 30-minute consultation, as a result of what it perceives is the frustration of patients in obtaining a timely GP appointment. In addition to necessary medical treatment, there is an increasing consumer demand for cosmetic surgery much of which takes place in the private sector.
Most members of the public believe that by going private they’re paying for speed and attention, and that the quality of care is the same or even better than that in the NHS. Private hospitals encourage this perception in their advertising and it is compounded by the fact that many consultants routinely work in both the public and private sectors. So in the mind of many, the service must be the same or better.
–Ali Malsher is a former nurse who is now a clinical negligence partner at London law firm Anthony Gold. The opinions expressed are her own.–
Following the criminal fine for Mid Staffs yesterday, the public are rightly asking what this will mean for patients’ rights going forward. Will the imposition of such a large fine of £200,000 on a hospital trust have a positive effect on the way patients are treated in hospitals? Will the fine shock other trusts into shifting towards a culture of greater transparency? Currently, patients who have received substandard treatment suffer from a significant lack of information about what really happened and why. Is this going to be changed by yesterday’s announcement?
It was bound to happen. You could see it waddling into view from a long way off. We are now being told by the medics that we should seriously consider a tax on fatty foods, in order to combat the scourge of obesity. How appropriate that, according to The Independent, the Deputy PM is planning to recruit 65,000 “State Nannies”!
One wonders how the new tax will be computed. Will it be a higher rate of tax on higher fat-content foods? Will chicken breast be taxed at a lower rate than chicken legs? Will omega-3 fats be taxed at a lower rate than omega-6? Either way, we can look forward to a tabloid feeding frenzy which will make pastygate look like a Cornish picnic.
A week or two ago, I posted a blog bemoaning the size of Britain’s public sector and expressing the fervent hope that the ill wind of the financial crisis would blow much of it away, leaving room for private industry to expand in its place.