Headlines: May 4th, 2000

Partnerships between the private healthcare sector and the NHS have blurred the clear lines of policy on delivering better health care, says the Kings Fund.The independent healthcare charity says that private hospitals are competing with the NHS for staff, money and patients, and are ill-prepared to also be partners.

Writing in Health Care UK Spring 2000, published today, King’s Fund health systems fellow Justin Keen argues that the growing popularity of complementary therapies, the increasing use of private finance to build NHS hospitals, and the loss of much NHS dentistry have blurred the boundaries between the two sectors.

At the same time, private hospitals are competing with the NHS rather than providing a distinctive service outside what the NHS should do.

The result is confusion over how doctors are regulated, inequalities in access to care and competition over scarce resources.

The article calls for a debate about where the private sector can usefully complement the NHS and where it cannot.

Health Care UK Spring 2000 is available from the King’s Fund on 020 7307 2585, price 9.99 pounds.