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More patients in Dorset opting for private healthcare over NHS
FAMILY doctors in Dorset and the surrounding area say they have seen a 25 per cent increase in patients paying for private care, often because of restrictions on NHS treatment.
A survey carried out for BMI Healthcare found that at least once a month, 79 per cent of GPs in the county are unable to refer patients because they do not meet NHS criteria. The national average was 70 per cent.
One in six of the doctors said they were now looking into private healthcare options with their patients more often than they used to. Just under three-quarters believed more people were considering paying privately because the treatment or procedure they needed was not available on the NHS.
GPs say other factors included patients believing waiting times were getting longer and being unwilling to wait. NHS waiting times for most treatments in Dorset were reported to be 21 weeks Dr Mark Ferreira, medical development director of BMI Healthcare, said the reasons included health service reforms and increasing restrictions on referring patients to hospitals.
“As this survey shows, patients are being forced to consider how they will be treated and how they will pay for their healthcare,” he claimed.
BMI Healthcare, which runs the Harbour Hospital in Poole, says that with primary care trusts handing over commissioning of health service to GPs next April, patients and doctors need clarity over what treatments would be available on the NHS.
One patient currently battling with the NHS is Paralympic swimming hopeful Ben Clark , who broke his neck in a diving accident at Sandbanks two years ago. Although his GP and specialist recommend an injection to relieve bladder spasms, NHS Dorset is refusing to fund the procedure, but is prepared to pay for a major operation.
A spokesman for the NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset Cluster said “We are the commissioner of quality healthcare for people throughout the county and need to ensure that any treatment is clinically effective.
“The Policy for Individual Patient treatment sets out how individual requests for referrals outside of existing pathways are considered, and the commissioning principles on which decisions will be based.”
He added: “The full policy is available on the NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset websites.”