Private hospitals have offered to help the NHS during the pandemic crisis. Reassurances that this would ‘not be at a profit’ were made at the time. But what exactly does that mean? And how might this actually profit the private hospitals and put them in a position to profit after the pandemic?
The Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI*) has published a blog – Who benefits from the NHS’s bailout of private hospitals – which sheds a highly critical light on the supposed ‘no profit’ claim of the deal, under which the NHS gains an additional 8% bed capacity and around 10,000 extra nurses.
But this does not come at no cost. CHPI maintain that the government, in agreeing to cover private hospitals’ rent and lease costs as part of the arrangement, are protecting private hospitals from severe financial difficulties caused by the pandemic crisis and ensuring they will be in a good position once the pandemic recedes to gain from dealing with the massive backlog of cases caused by diverting NHS resources into dealing with the pandemic.
DFNHS Chair, Dr Colin Hutchinson:
‘Help in this emergency is of course welcome. But should public money be used to bail out private health suppliers and leave them strengthened to cash in on the suffering which is bound to follow as treatment is delayed during the pandemic? Wouldn’t it be better to leave a stronger, less reliant NHS for all?’
Colin’s remarks were supported by DFNHS Treasurer, Dr Peter Trewby, who added: ‘This is about the NHS having the resilience to stand alone’.