Dispute over extra income for health services

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A TOP Sheffield health professional has called for the city’s hospitals to be allowed to raise almost half their income from treating private patients - prompting criticism from Labour MP Clive Betts.

Professor Mike Richmond, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was among signatories to a letter calling for the chance to ‘explore opportunities for additional income’ to help invest in NHS care.

The letter calls for NHS hospitals to be allowed to raise up to 49 per cent of their income from treating private patients.

But Sheffield South East Labour MP Mr Betts said: “I think Prof Richmond is totally out of step with Sheffield people. They are overwhelmingly concerned about the Government’s proposals for the NHS.”.

He added: “Increasing private patient income can only be achieved at the expense of deteriorating NHS services for Sheffield people.”

Critics fear allowing competition between hospitals could see private companies ‘cherry picking’ the most profitable procedures.

But the Government believes its plans will deliver savings in the long term without compromising the quality of patient care.

Prof Richmond, whose trust runs the Royal Hallamshire, Northern General, Jessop Wing, Weston Park and Charles Clifford hospitals, said: “Due to the uncertain wider economic climate it is only right we explore potential opportunities for additional income so we can sustain investment in NHS care over the next few years.

“It would also ensure we remain at the forefront of health care innovation as well as making certain our services are the best they can be.”