Pounds over patients: medical consultants risk prioritising private profits, says study

In one extreme case, former breast surgeon Ian Paterson carried out unnecessary and damaging cancer surgery on over 750 women in order to profit.

A doctor at their desk

Medical consultants risk prioritising the profits they make from privatised healthcare over patients wellbeing, a study has found, as privatised health companies ramp up financial incentives for consultants to use their services. 

In the study, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) found that there was a major conflict of interest between privatised hospitals and the NHS and called for better transparency. 

The study found that over 600 consultants held shares in or owned equipment in private hospitals and that they received a fee for using the equipment or referring patients to private services. 

It also found that patients would often receive more treatment than is necessary because of the financial incentive. 

In one extreme case, former breast surgeon Ian Paterson carried out unnecessary and damaging cancer surgery on over 750 women in order to profit. 

Of the 600 consultants who have a financial investment in privatised healthcare, 265 also worked for the NHS. Of those, only 19 have declared their financial investments and interests publicly. 

The small financial rewards consultants are receiving for private referrals are just a small part of a larger £1.5 million plan to win over NHS consultants. 

In some cases, medical consultants have been taken on lavish trips worth over £1000 to sports events such as Wimbledon and extravagant dinner. 

NHS England guidance prohibits NHS consultants from receiving more than £75 worth of corporate hospitality. 

David Rowland, the director of CHPI, explained that it is not yet clear if this type of corporate hospitality is breaching the Bribery Act 2010, but that it was clear there needed to be a major change in transparency in order to prevent financial interest from doing harm to patients. 

“What we have found leads us to the firm view that the current system is ineffective and that there are certain conflicts of interest which need to be prohibited rather than managed.  

“This needs to happen in order to protect patients and the integrity of the UK healthcare system,” Rowland said.

Meka Beresford is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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2 Responses to “Pounds over patients: medical consultants risk prioritising private profits, says study”

  1. Tom Sacold

    Labour should have a manifesto commitment to banning ALL private medical health work in the UK. The NHS should be for all British citizens, free at the point of delivery and funded fully by the State.

  2. Ty Tipler

    Thanks for your post. Seeking accurate information is one of the biggest issues for its younger generation.

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