Private prescribing in the NHS: what is the future of the NHS?

Is socialist healthcare dead? #MSBlog #MSResearch 

"The NHS was founded on two principles that underpin socialist healthcare in the UK. (1) Healthcare will be free at point of service and (2) there will be equity. The coalition has undermined these principles by allowing private prescriptions in the NHS. In the past private prescribing was the remit of the private sector and you needed to have all your care covered privately. Doctors were not allowed to look after the same patient in the private sector and the NHS. Now you can pick and choose. As a neurologist who sees people with MS from all walks of life I am deeply uncomfortable with this change in policy. Why should one patient be denied access to a licensed drug in the NHS simply because they can’t afford it, when another can?"

"Is private prescribing the thin edge of the wedge? Is it the end of the NHS as we know it? We tried to set-up a debate on this last year, but could not get any politicians, from any of the parties, to participate. Why? I am beginning to suspect that there is a cross-party consensus on private prescribing in the NHS and that they would rather not put their heads above the parapet as they have too much to lose. I am very keen to get to the bottom of how, and who, was responsible for this change in NHS policy? I need to know if this is the shape of things to come. Will the NHS increasingly provide a two-tiered system? Should we prepare ourselves for a future of NHS haves and have-nots? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but it needs a public debate. In a world of austerity in which soaring health costs need to be addressed there are no right and wrong answers. Allowing private prescriptions in the NHS may be a subtle way of the government telling the British electorate that we can’t afford the NHS in its current form and we need to top it up with private contributions. If that is the case the Government, or the Whitehall mandarins who thought up this change in policy, should tell us their plans for the future of the NHS."

"I need to know how to deal with issue of private prescribing. I need to rationalise how I am going to deal with this issue in my clinic. At the moment I am referring patients who make a request for a private prescription to my colleagues who don’t have a moral problem with this issue."

"To get more information on this topic we are going to task an intern, or work-experience student, with the job of investigating this issue. As part of his/her job I will ask them to periodically update you on this issue via the blog. If any of you can help please feel free to contact us. The primary objective of this exercise is to get a genuine public debate on this issue that will hopefully lead to some clarity."

"If you are interested in this issue please read some of our previous posts on the topic."

13 May 2013
Fampridine is not being funded by the NHS, but we are allowed to give private prescriptions to individuals who can pay for the medication themselves." "What this practice signifies is the end of socialist medicine in the UK as ...
15 May 2013
"Our post on 'Topping-up the NHS with private prescribing' has generated a healthy debate. In response to a query yesterday I thought I would highlight an example of private prescribing within the NHS in relation to the ...
10 Jul 2013
I have already highlighted the pernicious influence that private prescribing is having on the NHS. Private prescribing has undermined the two founding principles of the NHS: free at point of access and equity. We are planning ...

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