Headlines: August 17th, 2000

A leading thinker on the NHS has declared that Government proposals to allow NHS bodies to levy charges for the personal elements of care amounts to covert privatisation. Professor Allyson Pollock says that the move will fundamentally change the way some English patients receive health care in an editorial in this week’s British Medical Journal (BMJ).Under the plan, new care trusts will be able to commission and deliver both primary and community care as well as social care. They will define what is NHS care and what is social care, with the social care elements subject to local authority charging policies. Because they can levy charges for personal care in the private sector, primary care trusts will have clear financial incentives to shift intermediate care into non-NHS settings, says the BMJ editorial.

Cottage hospitals, private nursing homes and domiciliary and community settings will form the heart of the new intermediate sector. Professor Pollock, of the School of Public Policy, University College London, says some of the 300,000 NHS patients expected to move annually from hospitals into intermediate care in nursing and domiciliary settings may have to pay for their personal care