The BMA has criticised the government for striking a costly agreement by NHS England to block book private hospital beds in case they are required for NHS patients in the event of a major surge in covid-19 cases.
Last week, under direction from the health secretary, Sajid Javid, NHS England agreed to pay private sector providers between £75m and £90m a month for the next three months in case they are required to provide extra bed capacity with omicron cases high. Private providers will receive the “minimum income guarantee” for being on standby even if they don’t treat any NHS patients, and could receive up to £525m if they do.
The deal, which will be in place from 10 January until 31 March 2022, was made despite NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard warning that it left the NHS “exposed financially” and represented “a material risk that the NHS pays for activity that is not performed.
Full story in The BMJ, 18 January 2022