Struggling NHS trusts urge patients to use 'quick and easy' private hospitals amid record wait times

8 January 2023, 17:16 | Updated: 9 January 2023, 05:19

Ambulances have queued for hours to drop patients off at A&Es across the country
Ambulances have queued for hours to drop patients off at A&Es across the country. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

NHS trusts are urging patients to pay to use private services, including some within NHS hospitals, to avoid record wait times.

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New figures this weekend showed 7.21 million people in England are waiting for NHS treatments, months after the wait list passed seven million for the first time.

Campaigners fear the encouragement of private healthcare by NHS trusts is contributing to a "two-tier" health care system.

NHS trusts including East Sussex, Great Western and Norfolk are advertising paid-for services within public facilities, The Observer reported.

East Sussex vowed "fast access" for private patients, while James Paget university hospitals in Norfolk writes: “We provide highly experienced consultant-led services … without the waiting list.”

It comes as Rishi Sunak refused to tell the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg whether he sees a private GP.

An empty bed at a private hospital is pictured
An empty bed at a private hospital is pictured. Picture: Alamy

Read more: 'Not really relevant': Sunak refuses to say if he uses private GP as NHS embroiled in crisis

Read more: Caller: ‘I’m supposed to trust these people with my health and they harassed me!’

Sunak said this morning:"As a general policy I wouldn't ever talk about me or my family's healthcare situation.

"But it's not really relevant, what's relevant is the difference I can make to the country."

"[It's] a distraction from what the real issue is."

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting responded that Mr Sunak "gave the impression of someone who not only doesn't use the NHS but doesn't understand the scale of the challenges or have a plan to deal with the fundamental problems".

Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said she was pleased the PM has agreed to meet striking nurses.

She stated:."The Prime Minister talked about coming to the table, now that's a move for me because I have said, let's meet halfway."

Lawrence Dunhill of the Health Service Journal says NHS investment 'would've made a difference.'

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