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Surgeon Sian Caiach
"I am extremely concerned"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Colette Hume
"By admitting private cases, both the hospital and the consultants benefit financially"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 11:58 GMT
Private patients 'taking NHS beds'

Surgeons generic
No extra time is set aside for private patients


A west Wales hospital consultant claims operations are being delayed because private patients are being treated in NHS wards.

Sian Caiach, an orthopaedic surgeon at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli, said she could perform one more hip operation a week if private patients were treated in private hospitals.


It's completely wrong that people in serious need should be turned away in favour of private patients
Helen Mary Jones AM
Ms Caiach said that when the hospital was run by the Llanelli NHS Trust, consultants' contracts were changed to allow them to earn more than 10% of their total salary from private practice - provided they brought their private patients into Prince Phillip Hospital rather than use private facilities.

The hospital is currently run by the Carmarthenshire NHS Trust which has adopted the contracts.

The consultant said that even when the hospital was experiencing a beds crisis and she could not bring in any of the patients on her list, private patients were still being admitted.

"We haven't got any extra beds or any extra operating time for private cases so these people are being admitted into beds normally used for NHS patients and they're being operated on in NHS sessions in the operating theatres," she said.

Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli Prince Philip Hospital waived the 10% rule
"We have occasionally had to completely close operating lists, but private patients have been given priority."

Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones described the hospital's arrangements as "completely unacceptable".

"It's completely wrong that people in serious need should be turned away in favour of private patients who are often there for elective surgery that could wait," she said.

"Every week in my constituency, I see people who have been on waiting lists - for months and months at a time - who don't even know when their operations are going to happen.

'Unacceptable'

"It's completely unacceptable that these operations should be postponed or cancelled because some people can afford to pay to jump the list."

The Trust has issued a statement which said that just nine orthopaedic private in-patients were admitted for treatment between April 1999 and January 2000 - a small proportion of the total number of 8,292.

But Sian Caiach disputes this figure and claims that at least 14 private patients have been treated in that period.

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See also:
30 Dec 98 |  Health
Private healthcare market booms
21 Sep 99 |  Health
Private hospitals 'grab NHS resources'
18 Feb 00 |  Wales
Delay over kidney blunder report
11 Feb 00 |  Wales
Third kidney op doctor suspended
19 May 98 |  Your NHS
The size and role of private medicine

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