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Scottish NHS and private care to be kept separate, draft guidance says

NHS patients in Scotland should be able to top up their care privately but only if private and NHS care are kept clearly separate, according to draft guidance published by the Scottish Government on 12 December 2008 .

“Nothing in the new draft guidance should distract us from the priority of making sure that where a patient can genuinely benefit from a drug they are able to access it on the NHS. We must aim to ensure that decisions on co-payments are the exception not the norm,” said Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Among the other principles set out in the guidance are:

  • All parties involved should understand if the treatment is privately or NHS funded
  • Private care should be carried out at a different time and place to the NHS care
  • Patients who pay for care should still be entitled to NHS services on exactly the same basis of clinical need as other patients
  • The patient should bear the full cost of any private service. NHS resources should never be used to subsidise private care

Specifically on medicines, the guidance states: “Where a patient expresses interest in a drug which is not routinely available through the NHS, clinicians should exhaust all reasonable avenues for securing NHS funding
[including exceptional prescribing arrangements] before suggesting that the patient explores the option of securing the drug via the independent healthcare sector. Such circumstances are likely to be the exception rather than the rule”.

A consultation on the draft guidance closes on 12 January 2009.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10043868

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