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Government of Rishi Sunak will permit patients to schedule free medical care in private hospitals

Yes, the Rishi Sunak government have announced plans to allow patients in England to book free treatment in private hospitals for certain conditions, in areas where NHS capacity has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. This follows the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that the government will expand the NHS Nightingale Hospitals to four new locations to ease pressure on NHS services.

Under the proposals, NHS England will work with private providers of healthcare and other partners to provide new capacity to care for patients more quickly and safely. While details are still to be fully developed, it is understood that the private providers will be primarily used for urgent procedures, such as orthopaedic and cardiology, and will include cancer surgery and chemotherapy.

Patients in priority areas who need ongoing or complex care, such as those with specialty needs, could also be booked into private facilities, as well as those who need to be isolated for Covid-19 treatment. While not-for-profit companies, social enterprises, and third sector organisations will be invited to tender for contracts, the government has not ruled out using for-profit companies to provide services if they can meet the necessary quality and safety standards. However, no decisions have been made in regards to how long private hospitals might be used for NHS services, and costs associated with the plans will only be discussed when the contracts have been agreed.