Monday, 12 October 2009

NHS staff cost £1.5m in private healthcare

The National Health Service has been criticised for spending £1.5million on private health care for staff.

More than 3,300 NHS workers have received private medical treatment in the past three years, it was revealed yesterday. Between April 2006 and April 2007, 708 NHS staff received private treatment at a cost of £280,000. In 2008, 988 staff cost £470,000 in private hospital bills and in the 12 months to April this year, 1,641 staff received treatment at a cost of £828,000.

"If the NHS thinks it necessary to pay for private treatment for its staff to jump waiting lists then it raises serious questions about whether the current system is working as it should," said Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

A spokeswoman for the Patients Association, which represents NHS patients, said: 'I am really surprised. If the NHS's own staff are not using its service then it is sending out mixed messages to patients who, often, do not have the choice.'

The Royal College of Nursing said using private companies to treat NHS staff did not seem like the 'most appropriate use of money'. There must be 'greater investment in treatment for work-related problems, such as physiotherapy and counselling services', added Dr Peter Carter of the RCN.

The Department of Health said decisions on sending staff to private healthcare were taken locally.
Source: The Metro

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