Private treatment in NHS hospitals

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From Dr R. Loveday

Sir: Your article concerning the pressure being put by some trusts on insured casualty patients ("NHS hospitals get private work from casualty patients", 28 July) to agree to be admitted privately raises several important points which must be of concern to those insured with Bupa.

While it is unreasonable to pressurise any patient who is acutely ill to be treated privately, and all have a right to NHS care, it has been an expectation by those who are insured comprehensively that they would be free to request private care at their insurer's expense on the occasion of an emergency admission to hospital with (for example) a heart attack.

In seeking to avoid its members being pressurised, Bupa has introduced a rule which now also disallows cover for those who do request and expect it in the event of a direct admission to an intensive care unit. This is a "catch all" restriction which will also alarm those who are undergoing private surgery for a condition which does not normally require intensive care. A sudden and unexpected life-threatening complication that requires such care must be notified to Bupa's helpline (not 24hr) before admission to an intensive care unit in order that Bupa may exercise its discretion to pay for that care.

Bupa members beware!

Yours faithfully,

R. Loveday

President

Hospital Consultants and

Specialists Association

Basingstoke,

Hampshire

28 July

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