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NHS "top-up" framework unveiled

The government is to outline how NHS patients can "top up" their care with private treatments after a controversial ban on the practice was scrapped.

A review by Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director and a professor of palliative medicine, is to set out the circumstances in which people can pay privately for drugs while still benefiting from NHS care.

Concerns over what happens if a patient runs out of money, agreements that can be made with drug companies and the principle of allowing top-ups in relation to a whole range of conditions will be addressed.

Last month it emerged that about 1,000 patients a year were already topping up their NHS care with private drugs.

The government has previously stated that patients cannot mix and match private and NHS care, with current rules being that a patient cannot be both an NHS patient and a private patient in the same episode of care.

To get round the problem, some NHS hospitals have been allowing patients to see a consultant and treating that as one episode of care.

Another consultant has then written a private prescription for the drugs, which have been supplied to the patient's home by a private firm.

The NHS Confederation called for safeguards for NHS patients ahead of the announcement.

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NHS Confederation