Norfolk and Norwich Hospital bosses investigate claims that NHS patients’ treatment is delayed to make way for private appointments and consultations
- Credit: Evening News © 2009
Norfolk's biggest health provider has denied claims that private individuals are being treated while NHS patients wait longer to be seen.
But senior managers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are investigating the allegations, made by a reported group of consultants working at the N&N.
Peter Chapman, interim medical director, said the hospital's 'absolute principle' was not to cancel NHS patient appointments to make way for private lists.
It comes after a letter was sent to N&N boss Mark Davies, purportedly written by a group of anonymous consultants, which alleged NHS patient lists were being cancelled due to a lack of resources, only for private patients to be seen at the hospital that same day.
The writers claim this means some consultants are effectively 'renting' the N&N's floor-space and NHS staff to boost their own income.
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In the letter, seen by this newspaper, it is alleged: 'This is common practice across a number of specialities.
'This an appalling and corrupt use of tax-funded NHS resource.
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'We're not anti-private, only anti-private using much-needed NHS resource which is desperately required by NHS patients, often with greater need.'
The group also claim the trust's management turns a 'blind eye to this inappropriate, fraudulent and morally indefensible practice'.
'Pressures are mounting in the NHS on all fronts, sadly the losers are the patients,' they claim.
Former health minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the allegations merited proper investigation, and has written to Mr Davies about the issue.
He said: 'If it's true then it's really shocking. NHS hospitals should not be subsidising NHS care to private patients.
'I have never come across claims like this, not even during my time as health minister.'
Mr Chapman said: 'The hospital's absolute principle is that we do not cancel NHS lists to make way for private lists.
'Our practice is to prioritise our NHS patients and to ensure that patients are always treated according to clinical need.
'We are investigating the allegation in this letter, and so far have found no support whatsoever for it.
'We promote the Speak Up policy at the trust to encourage, support and protect any member of staff wishing to raise any concerns.'
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