‘NHS fees must cover training’

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THE NHS should be paid more than private hospitals for operations, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has said.

In the House of Commons last week, Mr Ruffley raised the concerns of West Suffolk Hospital doctors who argue it will be unfair that when new ways of funding healthcare come in, the NHS will be paid the same as private hospitals for operations.

In a question to health minister Simon Burns, Mr Ruffley said: “The NHS has to carry the cost of training whereas, on the whole, the private sector does not. What steps will the minister take to address this perceived unfairness?”

Mr Burns replied: “We do not propose to introduce price competition into the NHS; rather we propose to introduce competition based on quality. His clinicians are correct that the price will be the same.”

But he said they would end the previous Government’s policy which paid private treatment centres 11 per cent more per operation than the NHS was paid for the same operations.

Afterwards Mr Ruffley complained: “The minister only half answered my question.

“West Suffolk Hospital has more costs to cover than the private sector because our NHS has to spend time and money training our doctors and nurses.

“In short, it is not a level playing field and disadvantages our NHS.”

Mr Ruffley said he would be meeting Health Secretary Andrew Lansley before Parliament’s summer recess to urge him to address this concern in his review of health reforms.