Private patients get £250 NHS bonus

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Politicians rounded on a private healthcare company yesterday for paying patients £250 a night if they occupy an NHS bed.

Politicians rounded on a private healthcare company yesterday for paying patients £250 a night if they occupy an NHS bed.

Norwich Union Healthcare, which offers the insurance plan, was criticised for making NHS waiting lists longer and inciting bribery of staff. The plan, called Fair and Square, allows subscribers to choose between private and NHS treatment. If they opt for the NHS they get a £250 a night payment.

It is feared that patients might use the money to bribe staff to jump waiting lists or to allow them to stay in hospital longer, increasing waiting lists.

David Hinchliffe, chairman of the Select Committee on Health, has tabled a motion calling on the company to withdraw the plan. He said yesterday thatoffering monetary rewards left the NHS "wide open" to corruption.

Gisela Stuart, a Health minister, said the plan was legal but would have an "extremely distorting effect" on the NHS.

Tim Baker, commercial director of Norwich Union, said the plan was a successful product, which the company saw no reason to withdraw.

Some patients in England face a four-year wait for an out-patient appointment with a consultant, according to a report by the College of Health.

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