Letter: Bupa subscribers will pay for loss of NHS beds

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The Independent Online
Sir: Whatever the potential loss of income to the NHS from the Bupa Health Fund ("Loss of Bupa patients 'will mean NHS cuts' ", 11 May), Bupa subscribers have many reasons why they should be concerned at the restrictions imposed upon them by this new scheme.

There are currently 800 or so hospitals in both the private and NHS sectors that provide facilities for private patients. These are well distributed across the country. A patient wishing private care can almost certainly find it locally in conjunction with a local consultant recommended by the GP.

Those who have the need to be close to an intensive care unit will be better provided for in an NHS bed, for that facility is normally closer at hand than in an independent unit. Other very specialised facilities may only be available in this way.

If Bupa subscribers are restricted to 150 "selected" independent hospitals, the subscribers' choices may be further limited. If urological operations are only performed in a local unit that is not on Bupa's list, it is no good taking one's prostate problem to the Bupa selected unit that does not have this speciality.

Private medical insurance is there to assist a subscriber to obtain medical care from a specialist and hospital of choice at a convenient time. The Bupa Health Fund takes away the first two elements of choice, and the choice of time will disappear as the 150 hospitals become fully booked with travelling Bupa subscribers.

Robin Loveday FRCA

President, Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association