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Hospitals opting for private services to boost income

A growing number of hospitals are opting for new private treatment options as well as offering patients the choice of ‘self funding’ for treatments and services that are subject to restrictions or to long waiting times on the NHS, an investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reveals.

The treatments are offered at cheaper rates than in the private sector, data obtained from 134 acute hospital Trusts in England show. Supporters of the scheme say to makes care more accessible but critics counter that it creates a two tier system that makes it more difficult to distinguish private from NHS care.

They say the system could also disadvantage NHS patients because self-funding patients are often treated in the same facilities. According to the Foundation Trust Network, most Trusts have systems in place to stop paying patients ‘queue jumping’ ahead of NHS patients when being treated in the same facility.