In Croydon, “GP-led commissioning” is already seeing NHS patients referred to profit-driven private hospitals, who use the opportunity to try to make even more money. This is a salutary lesson submitted by our loyal reader
A friend recently had her first experience of “GP-led commissioning” in the brave new world of the NHS according to Andrew Lansley. She was referred by her GP for an investigation. A couple of years ago she would have been given the choice of a selection of hospitals or, depending on the procedure, simply sent to “Croydon University” Hospital. This time she was rather surprised to be dispatched to the private Shirley Oaks Hospital.
A couple of weeks later she went to her GP for the results, which were thankfully fine and assumed that that was the end of it. She was therefore a little bemused to get a letter from Shirley Oaks a few days later summoning her to a follow-up appointment there at an unfeasible early hour the next Saturday morning.
It was accompanied by some small print hinting darkly that if you weren’t insured, you might need to pay a charge.
Now my friend wasn’t born yesterday, nor even the day before, so she gave them a ring. She was disgusted to find that yes, if she did go along she would have to pay a substantial fee and that it was Shirley Oaks’ standard practice to send out this sort of letter.
Not only is GP-led commissioning a means for the Tories’ friends in lucrative private healthcare to suck money out of the NHS, they’re also using it as a recruitment tool to generate even more profit.
My friend’s visit to Shirley Oaks was not without incident. She suffers from an unrelated condition which can play her up in times of stress, and she did have difficulties while at Shirley Oaks. If she was in a normal NHS general hospital this would not have caused the slightest of problems, but it was more than Shirley Oaks could handle, so they sent her off to the Mayday to be checked out.
As her consultant later said, if you are cheap and easy to treat they’ll welcome you with open arms. But if anything expensive or tricky happens, they don’t want to know.
I wonder how many more NHS patients will be sent to inappropriate facilities and get sold services they don’t need before the Tories are finally rumbled and their plan to dismantle the NHS and privatise healthcare is abandoned once and for all?
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