Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

It's cost-effective way to address growing waiting lists

Mark Regan
Mark Regan

Critics of the independent sector would have us believe that private hospitals are draining the public purse when this couldn't be further from the truth.

All work undertaken by 3fivetwo must first pass through Government tender, open to any company in the UK.

Under the tender process, when a health trust advertises a contract for work to be done by the private sector it typically states that the cost must be at, or below, the cost laid out in the NHS tariff which sets out the cost of thousands of procedures, from hip replacements to CT scans. This includes the cost of the surgeon's time, theatre time, beds, medication and any part of the treatment that is involved.

Using the private sector to address waiting lists is therefore actually more cost-effective than the additional work being done in-house and there are a number of reasons for this.

If you need to meet waiting time targets it means facilitating extra clinics and surgery which in turn requires the staff to work overtime, which can be expensive and can be prohibitive under Agenda For Change policies which nurses are contracted to.

In addition to staff, there will also be an investment in infrastructure required, typically millions yet the independent sector already has much of this in place including, theatres, wards and CT scanners.

So long as the costs remain within NHS tariff and the patients are seen quickly there is little room for debate.

In addition to the same cost, 3fivetwo use only consultant doctors to deliver care and they do so here locally in the most advanced facilities available, such as Kingsbridge Private Hospital.

The result is that the public purse gets value for money, the patients are seen without the need for long journeys and the money is retained here in Northern Ireland to be spent in our own economy.

Mark Regan is CEO of Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast

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