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Published on 15 October 2008

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Patients dodging private care rules

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About 1,000 patients a year are topping up their NHS care by paying for expensive private treatments against government rules, it has been revealed.

NHS hospitals have found ways to dodge the rule against top-up care to help patients get drugs which are not available on the NHS.

The private firm Healthcare at Home said it had contracts with 30 NHS hospitals to offer treatments privately to patients who are also having standard care.

Cancer tsar professor Mike Richards is reviewing the issue and is due to publish a report in the next few weeks.

The rules state that a person cannot be both an NHS patient and a private patient in the same episode of care.

Some NHS hospitals have found a way to interpret an episode of care which sees a visit to a consultant as one episode of care while another consultant writes a private prescription for drugs supplied by Healthcare at Home.

The patient pays the company directly when drugs are delivered so that is seen as a separate episode of care.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was aware of “variation in how individual trusts are applying the current guidance”.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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