NHS trust spends £12,000 treating staff privately

An NHS trust has spent more than £12,000 on private treatment for hospital staff because its own waiting times are too long.

The money was used to bring in physiotherapists to help workers recover from muscular skeletal injuries at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Bosses said it prevented them from leapfrogging NHS patients and enabled them to return to work more quickly.

However, the private treatment, which amounted to £12,116 for 271 appointments over the past year, was described by critics as “shocking”.

Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Their staff should have to wait like everybody else. “Perhaps if they experienced it as their customers – that is the taxpayer – experienced it, they might be a little keener to improve their waiting times.”

Frances Jackson, a patient who receives physiotherapy treatment from the hospital, said: “It’s great that staff are being catered for because there is a need for it – they do get work-related injuries which can lead to osteoarthritis.

“But what about everybody else? There’s an amazing amount of people who can’t afford private physiotherapy. They need to appoint more physiotherapists and bring the waiting lists down.”

Jan Bloomfield, executive director of workforce and communications at the hospital, said: “In line with national best practice, and with policies adopted by other major employers, we offer a physiotherapy service to help staff with specific work-related problems.

“Staff must meet very precise criteria to receive the service, which offers good value for money as it helps them get back to work quickly so they can continue to provide high quality care to our patients, avoiding the need to draft in expensive locum care.”

She added: “Funding for the service is generated by our occupational health team, who go into businesses to advise on health and safety, and is not taken from budgets set aside for patient care.

“We are currently looking at whether it would be cost-effective to extend the service to offer different types of rehabilitation to staff.”


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