DoH reveals detail of top-up payment scheme

Tight controls will be needed to prevent a two-tier health system developing, health secretary Alan Johnson warned this afternoon as he announced that 'top-up' payments will now be allowed within the NHS.

Alan Johnson Credit:Haymarket Medical/Charlie McDonald
Alan Johnson Credit:Haymarket Medical/Charlie McDonald

Mr Johnson said the practice of taking away a patient’s entitlement to NHS care when they purchased an additional treatment privately would end in England with immediate effect.

DoH guidelines, published to coincide with the announcement, stress that NHS care should never be withdrawn, that private care should take place separately from NHS care and that NHS funds should never be used to subsidise private care.

Mr Johnson said the guidelines would ensure that the NHS is clear on how to deal with the rare occasions where patients opt to fund additional drugs privately.

Access to drugs will also be improved by further measures to increase the speed with which NICE appraises new drugs, he said. In addition, NICE would begin to take account of the premium that society places on drugs which prolong life for the terminally ill, he announced.

Governments in Wales and Scotland are closely monitoring the England model.

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