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Self-serving NHS trusts are making patients wait

4 October 2010

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“Self-serving” NHS trusts are making patients wait while more efficient services are available, a watchdog has revealed.

Think-tank Civitas found that health trusts are making patients play a waiting game even when “faster, higher quality care is on offer elsewhere”, in a report released on 4 October.

Health organisations are able to purchase services from a range of suppliers, including the NHS and privately run firms.

The Refusing Treatment report was based on 46 interview with executives at numerous health trusts, practice-based commissioners and in the private sector.

Researchers revealed that admiration of the NHS is hampering the idea of the “market” in the NHS.

The government is currently planning to abolish trusts, giving GPs control over commissioning services.

“There is a deep cultural reverence for the NHS as something more than a health system,” the report said.

“The emotive notion of the ‘NHS family’ encourages a counter-productive ‘us versus them’ attitude with regard to the private and voluntary sectors, and has been used in the words of one official ‘by most people in most places to try to block ‘the market’.

“We found this to be the most important factor in stifling the market.”

Co-author James Gubb added: “The coalition government has put a lot of faith in the power of the market to meet the NHS’s unnerving productivity challenge.

“The problem is the coalition isn’t addressing the real issues as to why the market currently isn’t delivering: the overwhelming power of hospitals and the closed-shop ‘we can do it alone because we’re the NHS’ attitude so prevalent across the organisation.”

NHS Partners Network director David Worskett said: “The vast majority of GPs, as guardians of public money, must be relied on to deliver the best services they can – regardless of what type of firm provides it – with the funding they have been given.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010