NHS 'To Increase Rationing Of Healthcare Services'

Certain Groups 'To Be Denied Surgery And Treatments In Efforts To Balance Books'


Specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have urged that the NHS puts the safety of patients first, after a new survey suggested a significant section of the service is planning to extend rationing of patients' access to care.
The bosses of two in five of England's 211 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are considering imposing new limits on eligibility for services this year.
IVF, footcare, and hip and knee replacements are among the services to be reduced, while smokers and the obese may be denied surgery and other treatments. Clinical thresholds of need and referral management schemes may also be introduced to decide who should undergo certain procedures.
NHS bodies are currently struggling to keep up with rising demands for care, staff shortages, and a funding shortfall that left the service £1bn in the red for the 2014-15 financial period.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, which represents 140 health charities, was concerned by the plans.
"It's very worrying to hear this because access to services that people need is a key aspect of what makes the NHS the NHS," he said.
"It's comprehensive, it's national, it's free at the point of use and it's not based on ability to pay, so if you want to ramp up rationing then you call into question the extent to which it’s still a comprehensive service based on clinical need. This is worrying but not surprising, given the overall financial state of the NHS."

Expert Opinion
While it is important that the NHS continues to work to ensure it can provide the necessary level of care and support to patients, it is important that patient safety is at the forefront of any decisions made to change policies.

"Central to this must be ensuring that patients are able to access a high standard of care when they need it the most, regardless of where they live.

"It must be ensured that any changes do not lead to a postcode lottery in terms of whether patients can access support."
Mandy Luckman, Partner