- Providers of NHS treatment are required from Monday to make sure patients in England are eligible for free care – and to charge them up front if not. The measures apply to planned, non-urgent care – A&E, general practice and infectious disease treatment remain free to all. The government hopes it will contribute to £22bn of savings needed in the NHS.
- According to health officials, more patients should be told to go home and rest rather than be given antibiotics. Public Health England says up to a fifth of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary as many illnesses get better on their own. It is estimated that 5,000 people die in England each year as a result of drug-resistant infections.
- Overseas patients using the NHS will be charged up to £15,000 for operations under controversial new rules introduced this week. Hospitals have been ordered to routinely ask patients for utility bills, bank statements or payslips in a bid to prove their entitlement to free healthcare.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 25th of October 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News
Providers of NHS treatment are required from Monday to make sure patients in England are eligible for free care – and to charge them up front if not. The measures apply to planned, non-urgent care – Accident and Emergency, general practice and infectious disease treatment remain free to all. The government hopes it will contribute to twenty two billion pounds of savings needed in the NHS. But the British Medical Association said the changes may prevent vulnerable people getting treatment they need. Under the new measures, patients will be asked where they have lived in the last six months. If they have lived abroad, they will be asked to show documentation that they are entitled to free NHS care, such as a non-UK European Health Insurance Card. Hospitals and other parts of the NHS are also required to flag when a patient should be charged so that providers elsewhere within the health service can more easily recoup costs.
Doctor Chaand Nagpaul, of the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said the current proposals “lack clarity” and “run the risk of causing confusion”.
The government has previously estimated that up to five hundred million pounds could be recovered from overseas visitors’ and migrants’ use of the NHS every year. The BMA, at the time however, called that figure “exaggerated” and “unreliable”.
According to health officials, more patients should be told to go home and rest rather than be given antibiotics. Public Health England says up to a fifth of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary as many illnesses get better on their own. Overusing the drugs is making infections harder to treat by creating drug-resistant superbugs.
PHE says patients have “a part to play” in stopping the rise of infections.
It is estimated that five thousand people die in England each year as a result of drug-resistant infections, and four in ten cases of bloodstream E. coli infections now cannot be treated with first-choice antibiotics. By two thousand fifty, drug-resistant infections around the world are expected to kill more people than currently die from cancer. Antibiotics are vital in cases of sepsis, pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and other severe infections. But PHE says antibiotics are not essential for every illness. Coughs or bronchitis can take up to three weeks to clear on their own, but antibiotics reduce that by only one to two days, it says.
Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, told the BBC: “We don’t often need antibiotics for common conditions.
Instead, for infections that our body can handle, the advice is to: have plenty of rest,
use pain relief such as paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids. Bacteria are incredibly cunning – once you start attacking them with antibiotics, they find ways of surviving. People have died from bugs resistant to all antibiotics. England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has already warned of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse”.
Overseas patients using the NHS will be charged up to fifteen thousand pounds for operations under controversial new rules introduced this week. Hospitals have been ordered to routinely ask patients for utility bills, bank statements or payslips in a bid to prove their entitlement to free healthcare.Under the new laws, which came into force yesterday, it is mandatory for NHS hospitals to collect “upfront payment” from those who are not entitled to free care.
The price list, setting out the charges was only published yesterday morning, after the policy came in. It comes alongside Department of Health guidance which instructs staff to ask thirty two questions in order to establish likely residency. Patients should be asked for evidence of a “settled home address in the UK”. These could include utility bills, council tax records, bank statements, tenancy agreements, proof of property ownership or insurance policies, the guidance states. While staff are not told to ask the questions to every patient, separate guidance warns that trusts could fall foul of discrimination law if they target non-white patients.
Senior NHS managers said it was “unrealistic” to expect hospital staff to have time to ask patients dozens of questions in order to find those who should be charged for treatment.
One senior source said they anticipated a “soft launch” of the rules, which were unlikely to be fully enforced immediately given the detailed demands being made.
Examples include rates of fifteen thousand eight hundred two pounds for spinal surgery, ten thousand two hundred seventy seven pounds for paediatric brain surgery or four thousand one hundred thirty eight pounds for delivery of a child, and one thousand eight hundred twenty five pounds for an eye operation. Another NHS senior manager said hospital trusts were unlikely to prioritise enforcement of the rules at a time when winter pressures are mounting. The British Medical Association criticised the lack of consultation about the mechanics of the plans. General practitioners visits are excluded from the charges. But the chairman of the Royal College of GPs raised fears that practices could end up overloaded by patients because of this.