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Private hospitals providing financial incentives for medical consultant referrals

The surgery performed in private hospitals is largely NHS consultants during their non-NHS hours. There is huge competition between private and public hospitals for referrals. Private hospitals have been providing financial incentives to consultants who will benefit directly when making the referrals. This is because when an operation is carried out in the private hospital, both the hospital and the consultant performing the surgery take money from this. It has been found that 431 NHS consultants have shares in private hospitals and with 17,500 working in the private sector, 4% of these are making a profit from private operations. Over a 4 years, NHS hospital trusts forked out over £40 million to private hospitals. Because consultants can make profit on surgery, this has lead to people being referred to surgery they do not need. In a private hospital, over 750 patients had received breast surgery for conditions they did not have between 1997 and 2011.

Full report available on Centre for Health and Public Interest, 30 June 2019

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