Private Emergency – or Accident?

I have always been surprised by how the Accident and Emergency crisis has never been linked to any  aspects of the private health sector. The chart below suggests NHS Intensive Care Units [ICU] seem, between them, to accept (per year) well over 3000 patients transferred from private hospitals with no ICUs.
This cannot help the crisis in NHS intensive care – particularly when people are encouraged to ‘go private’ in order to queue jump – or just for, supposedly, better care.

So it seems that , not only do these private businesses pay the NHS nothing towards the training costs of the the staff that they employ – though they could, perhaps, argue that doctors get additional, incidental training – but they may also put unnecessary additional pressure on the NHS at times when they could prefer not to have it.

In short, if the government really prefers markets, it should ensure sufficient slack in that same market in order to give patients the opportunity to fill it.

For the private sector, it should be blindingly obvious that when you fail to train enough doctors – perhaps the same private sector would deign to train sufficient numbers for private work?

In the UK that is a very tall ask, though it really should not be, given the outlook of the privatisation obsessed current government.

So we ought to be clear: we need a virtuous loop. Sufficient training for sufficient personnel.

Whilst I consider that we should, of course, promote exchange between different systems of international health care, domestically, we should realise that if we really had sufficient numbers, there would be virtually no need for private work.

And, once the private sector has fulfilled their resource obligations we probably ought to ensure that emergency care and ICU insurance is included in that private health care price.

Otherwise we have yet another example of privatising the profits and socialising the costs.


  1. Ms Christine Bergin -

    It appears blatantly obvious that the ‘private’ health service could not operate if the ‘public’ health service was not there to provide back up. This government has pilloried those who have needed medical help whom they classify as ‘Health tourists’ and have the gall to deny for treatment for those who were brought to this country as children unless they pay cash up front. Is anyone likely to ask (Preferably in Parliament) why no charge is made to these ‘private’ patients or will the poorer sections of our community continue to show such generosity toward the rich with no demand for reciprocity or payment? Does rather prove that our public provision at point of need works best!

  2. Graham -

    I think this links in with several recent themes and suggests to me we need a written constitution spelling out, among other things, what a “duty of care” towards citizens entails. For example, an NHS free at the point of need (where did I hear that?) and adequately funded (personally I would outlaw private health care that in any way drew upon the NHS or their personnel), decent low carbon, passivhaus social housing, the provision of an integrated national transport solution encompassing bus, train, bicycle, walking (and massive reduction in car/lorry use) and so on.

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