Public hospitals in the UK are no longer able to compare prices charged for private care in their hospitals.
Eight hospital trusts in England have provided assurances that they will not exchange pricing information after a whistleblower complained that the hospitals were violating the UK’s Competition Act.
England’s public hospitals have been engaged in private health care delivery for some time, the average hospital taking in about 1.1 per cent of their revenue from private insurance and those willing to pay out-of-pocket. Some are much higher – The Royal Marsden Hospital, which specializes in cancer care at its London and Surrey locations, takes in nearly a third of its income from private care.
The hospital trusts had been under a cap that allowed no more private care as a percentage of their overall revenues than existed in 2003. This October the situation will dramatically change, the cap being raised to 49 per cent of a hospital trusts’ revenue. That could mean more than half a public hospital’s beds could be effectively privatized and leave NHS (National Health Service) patients lingering longer on wait lists.