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NHS co-payment ban in disarray

Labour’s ban on NHS patients paying for medicines the health service does not fund is in disarray. Figures obtained under freedom of information legislation show that NHS hospitals were allowing dozens of patients to top up with private drugs before the government warned them it was not allowed under NHS rules in July last year.

The evidence that top-up payments have previously been allowed, apparently without difficulties, undermines the labour government’s claim they are contrary to the fundamental principles of the NHS.

At one trust, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, 20 patients were allowed to co-pay for cancer drugs that the health service refused to fund before the labour ban was introduced.

The figures also provide further evidence that many trusts are allowing patients to top up with additional drugs without removing the remainder of their NHS care.

Freedom of information data shows that Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has allowed patients to pay for drugs their consultant has recommended without losing the rest of their NHS treatment.

John Baron, MP for Billericay, who obtained the figures, said: “This undermines the case of those who argue co-payments cannot exist within the NHS.”

Other trusts that have allowed co-payments include the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, ABM University NHS Trust in Bridgend, south Wales, and Weston Area Health NHS Trust in Somerset.


Health Direct wonders whether NICE and labour would rather have people die than fund some treatments. Kill the quango, not the patients.