NHS price list sparks outrage as patients charged up to £8k for operations
NHS patients are being charged as much as £8,500 for operations at a UK hospital, sparking outrage and claims “privatisation is already here”.
Patients have raised concerns over the cost of surgeries under the My Choice programme at NHS Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust.
They must pay just under £8,500 for revision of knee replacement surgery, £7,000 for hip replacement surgery or hip resurfacing, and £2,000 for a circumcision.
The Trust introduced the My Choice system in 2013 for patients who had been denied varicose vein procedures, but it had since been expanded to include several more operations, the Liverpool Echo reports.
It does not includes procedures such as knee and hip replacements, hernia treatments, carpal tunnel operations, steroid injections and treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding.
The operations take place at Warrington Hospital, Halton Hospital and the Cheshire and Merseyside Treatment Centre.
Local residents have expressed concern over the prices, with one woman writing on Facebook : “Privatisation is already here.
“Several of the operations I’ve had are listed including a knee arthroscopy I had a few years ago when I couldn’t work for months.”
She wrote that she was “horrified” to see treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding on the list, describing the whole move as “immoral”.
Another person wrote: “So no knee/hip replacements for those that genuinely need them? No D&C (dilation and curettage) for those unfortunate to miscarry? Barbaric.”
The Trust insisted My Choice offers an “affordable, self-pay” service for patients denied NHS procedures classified by commissioners to be “low clinical priority”.
It said it is not a private patients service, adding: “All procedures are carried out as part of the Trust’s normal elective programme.”
It also said: “Originally created in 2013 to enable patients denied varicose vein procedures, the service has been significantly extended to include the large number of procedures no longer available on the NHS.
“As well as enabling affordable, convenient access for our patients, this will enable the Trust to make use of spare capacity and will generate additional income for the hospitals.”
There are further privatisation fears concerning Halton General Hospital.
Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury said he was told the contract for the urgent care unit at the hospital would no longer be provided by its existing NHS supplier.
In response to the criticisms, Mel Pickup, chief executive of the Trust, said: “The Trust does not charge NHS patients for NHS funded procedures. Not all healthcare services are funded by the NHS.
“These services are referred to as criteria based clinical treatments (previously called procedures of low clinical priority).
“It is not the role of hospitals to determine which services are funded and which are not. This is the role of NHS commissioners. Therefore where a patient wishes to have a procedure that is not funded by the NHS they can approach the private sector.
“Therefore, the Trust, like the majority of hospitals is now offering self-funding procedures to their patients.
“The Trust launched the My Choice service in September 2018, a self-pay service to enable access for our patients for these services.
“Also included on the list are procedures which are available on the NHS with strict criteria set by the commissioners.
“By offering them via our My Choice service it makes them more accessible for patients who otherwise would not
qualify for them under commissioner guidelines.
“My Choice enables patients to pay (self-fund) to have these procedures undertaken at our hospitals based on the national NHS price.
“As well as enabling affordable, convenient access for patients, this will enable the Trust to generate additional income to support our other NHS services.”
Cost of operations
Revision of knee replacement surgery – £8,447
Hip replacement surgery – £7,060
Hip resurfacing – £7,060
Circumcision – £2,000
Removal of haemorrhoidal skin tags – £1,319
Consultations – £180
Removal of adenoids – £1,931
Ear pinning – £2,331
Surgical treatment of hernias without symptoms – £2,541
Dilation and curettage – £1,187