Private care ‘is easing Vic load’

Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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Blackpool Victoria Hospital may have struggled to cope had some patients not opted for private treatment, it was claimed.

The hospital’s director of finance Tim Bennett’s comments came after it was revealed by The Gazette in October how £9 million was spent at Spire Fylde Coast Hospital last year.

Asked at a recent meeting whether ‘massively-needed resources’ were being taken away from the Victoria Hospital, given that ‘money follows the patient’, he said they would have ‘struggled’ to accommodate any more patients.

He added: “If the numbers that have gone to Spire or any of the other independent providers had been made available to use, I’m not sure we would have been able to treat that number of patients anyway. We’re pretty full to capacity most of the time.”

Under the Choose and Book scheme, patients can opt to be referred for private treatment instead of going to the Vic.

Last year, Monitor, now part of NHS Improvement, dismissed claims patients were being directed away from Spire Fylde Coast Hospital towards the Victoria Hospital, but upheld Spire’s complaint patients were not being offered a choice of hospitals for routine surgery.

But in April, The Gazette revealed how health bosses at Spire and Blackpool CCG were at loggerheads over charges after an extra 160 patients were treated at Spire – leading to a £2m overspend – which was partly blamed for the CCG’s end of year surplus being just £500,000, compared to the £2.5m that was predicted.