Patients are to be allowed to top up their NHS care with privately paid for drugs and treatment under plans being announced by the government.
A report by Professor Mike Richards is expected to deal with what happens if a patient runs out of money and the principle of allowing top-ups for a range of diseases and conditions.
The government has previously said that patients cannot be both an NHS patient and a private patient in the same episode of care.
But last month it emerged that 1,000 patients a year are topping up their NHS care with private drugs, helped by NHS hospitals allowing patients to see a consultant and treating that as one episode of care.
Another consultant then writes a private prescription for the drugs, which are supplied to the patient’s home by a private firm.
The NHS Confederation director of policy, Nigel Edwards, said: “This change in policy is welcome, and helps deal with a situation that had become insupportable.
“But allowing private payments alongside NHS care cannot be allowed to become the thin end of the wedge – no one wants a two-speed health service, and this should not become a step in that direction.”
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