NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment


4:38 pm - July 13th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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A walk-in NHS centre in Sheffield, which is now being managed by a private company, has started charging patients £25 for treatment of whiplash injuries.

There are now worries the charges could spread to other conditions and set a precedent for other NHS services.

One Medicare operates the Walk-in clinic on a contract from NHS Sheffield, who won’t say how much the contract is worth.

News of the charge was slammed by both Labour and Libdem councillors, according to the Postcode Gazette (h-t @kevinpmeagher)

Labour Cllr Mary Lea said:

Treatment is free under NHS principles and it is what we all expect. If this is going to be a trend under the health reforms this is a very worrying development.

According to the Gazette, One Medicare say they are following national guidance issued by the British Medical Association, but the guidance only applies to private doctors, not NHS salaried ones.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I’m confused as to how this is legal, unless there is some law passed we don’t know about that allows charges for that specific treatment?

They’re claiming it’s allowed under the Road Traffic Act 1999

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/3/section/1

But it looks like a complete misinterpretation of the Act, which governs payments of compensation between insurers and the NHS

It is allowed for the NHS & Ambulances to charge car insurance companies for injuries incurred in Road Accidents. The NHS Walk-in centre in the hospital I work does this. However the charge goes straight to the insurance company. They are probably using that legislation.

Fight back using the only language they understand….boycott.

5. Jonathan Coram

This is wrong, masquerading as an NHS establishment, then charging.

However, the NHS has limited resources, but has never picked up the hot potato of making policy decisions on what should be treated on the NHS. Until that debate is made, and an open scale of what should be treated, we will be troubled by this back door method of charging for treatment.

And so it begins…

7. David Kirkham

Interesting to note that Broad Lane is near the Sheffield Int’l College, which many overseas students, predominantly from China, attend; many live in the block where the walk-in centre is situated.

If its not going to be confined to whiplash later on, there may be trouble ahead.

7

And your point is?

10. Dave Procter

The point is is that he’s being racist I expect

11. Limiting Factor

This was predicted before the 2010 general election, that if the Tories got into government the NHS would be in mortal peril. And that eventually there would be noone in the NHS actually working for us, the people – instead there would be a patchwork of private sector companies providing healthcare under the NHS imprimatur. And when the private sector edges into a public service, charges soon follow. Its in their nature.

And so it begins…

I doubt it but I wish it would.

A small charge to access basic healthcare treatment at walk in centres and GP surgeries would stop much of the wasteful activity that goes on currently because the service is free of charge and there is no downside for time wasters.

If this were linked to an end to giving incentives to surgeries to undertake meaningless patient screenings, limited resources would be freed up for more important and valuable medical treatment.

Why does a dental check up require a contribution from the patient but a medical consultation does not?

13. David Kirkham

Hi 8

My point is that I used to work for Sheffield Int’l College and know that some students sign up for 2 term courses that last less than 6 months.

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/international/offerholders/uk/health/index.htm

“Students on courses of less than six months

If your course of study is for less than six months, emergency hospital treatment will be provided but only the treatment given in a NHS Accident and Emergency department is free of charge. Once you are admitted on to a ward or given an outpatient appointment, charges will apply. GPs may agree to treat you without charge, but this will usually be limited to urgent treatment that cannot be delayed until you return home. You will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient. It is therefore very important that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit to the UK. If do not have insurance, private treatment could prove very expensive.

Some countries have reciprocal health care agreements with the UK. If you are studying here for less than six months, you should seek advice from the health authorities in your home country to check what treatment will be covered. You may still need to take out limited or even full medical insurance depending on the particular arrangements.”

‘Whiplash’ injuries are also one of the most common, resulting from falls, impulsive stretching of the spine, such as from car accidents or when playing sports such as football, and the term can be used as a bit of a ‘catch all’ by medical staff.

9. Some of my best friends happen to be racist. I’m not. I was speculating that by charging £25 for ‘whiplash’ injuries, this company may be cynically exploiting overseas students; they know the composition of much of the local, immediate resident population. Many of the students arrive with a less than perfect grasp of English (which is why many attend the college) or the the UK healthcare system and they may be trying to misrepresent to overseas students that they need to pay charges, when only those who study for fewer than 6 months need to. This may sound slightly paranoid and overly suspicious I know, but with the healthcare system being farmed out the way it is, I hope you will forgive me that.

14. Christopher Brooks

David: Good point well made – these NHS pirates are bankers in the making!

Everyone else – I agree mostly that this is to be expected our collection of rich imbeciles (government) are following the american private sector model – which the USA has already started to change as it is not working.

The sad thing about this, is that is on the step of the Cabbage-patch pin up doll Nick Clegg, what a pathetic band of liberals he has led.

I for one will be moving my business and my tax out of the UK for Good. I stayed here to let my kids benefit from the education system, but with the advent of this tory cabinet I will be taking my considerable taxes elsewhere.

This country is now run by a group of elitist bigots, and I for one won’t wait around to see them completely ruin the work of those that have gone before them.

I still do not understand why we as a country needed to bail out the biggest bunch of criminals the world has ever seen and lose out in every way because of it.

Bullocks to England – it stands for nothing but corruption these days, long gone are the practices of honour and honesty.

15. Chris Herz

Om mane privatise. Om mane privatise. Om mane privatise.

16. the a&e charge nurse

[6] ‘And so it begins… ‘ – I am afraid it was all foretold a long time ago, Nikki, and with forensic accuracy.
Allyson Pollock’s NHS Plc came out in 2004.

More recently she has said, ‘In a two-pronged approach, public health services are transferred from the NHS to local authorities with the functions of both so poorly defined as to bring utter confusion to patients’ and citizens’ rights. The scene is set for a re-run of the transfer in the 1990s of long-term care responsibilities to councils when funding was privatized through means testing and charges. Worse: it’s returning to pre-1948.
Not everyone will be covered for all services in the new “NHS”. The government has gone to great lengths to ensure that the newly created commissioners of NHS services (the so-called clinical commissioning groups, CCGs) do not have responsibility for comprehensive care for all residents in one geographical area.
Instead the commissioning groups will able to recruit patients from GP lists across the country. This is not patient choice. It is commissioning groups choosing patients and purchasing what the commissioning groups deem to be the appropriate NHS cover. Selection will be the name of the game’.
http://www.allysonpollock.co.uk/blog/2011/11/24/the-abolition-of-the-nhs-that%E2%80%99s-what-is-happening/

The ‘any willing cowboy’ element of the HSCB was NEVER about improving clinical standards but rather about establishing sufficient momentum amongst private health providers to bring about a system based on payment, rather than one that is free at the point of delivery.

So, it won’t be very long before arguments shift to which services can charge a nominal amount (at least to begin with) – then, rather like Uni fees, we will a doubling, and then a tripling of charges right in front of our very eyes.

Of course our trusted politicos (from Tony to David) never had the integrity to openly admitted this and calculated, correctly as it turns out, that the public could easily be hoodwinked – well the public have been hoodwinked and will probably remain in the dark as the next phase in health privatisation leads to wider introduction of health insurance schemes, as well as direct charges for certain services – such changes, if we believe Pollock, are bound to emerge as sure as day follow night.

Perhaps we can at least console ourselves with the fact a burgeoning growth in bankruptcy cases (related to unpaid health care bills) may still be a few years down the line?

17. David Kirkham

Typically, this story has not yet appeared in the mainstream news media, either here in Sheffield or nationally.

@11

The worst you can get from not going to the dentist is oral cancer or septicemia, killing only yourself.

The worst you can get from not going to the doctor is a pandemic.

Better to treat time wasters.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 pagar

“A small charge to access basic healthcare treatment at walk in centres and GP surgeries would stop much of the wasteful activity that goes on currently because the service is free of charge and there is no downside for time wasters. ”

There’s a lot of sense to this, and while I don’t know if I agree with your position, I do agree that policy on free treatment should take timewasting into account. However, if we are going to start charging for treatment on the NHS, it should be under legislation that has been publically debated in the House of Commons with an understanding of how it is to be used – not snuck in under the radar by a contracter exploiting a legal loophole.

20. the a&e charge nurse

[11 + 18] time wasting – sometimes this is a label that can only be applied after the event.

Anybody who has been in A&E or general practice long enough will tell you stories of indigestion that proved to be symptoms a heart attack, back pain caused by a leaking abdominal aneurysm, or flu like symptoms that were in fact the prodromal phase of a fatal meningitis – all you have to do is invent a reliable retrospectoscope and the day of the time waster will be numbered.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 19 a&e

I was thinking more about GP visits than A&E – people in both outfits will tell stories of their frustration with attention-seekers, hypercondriacs and idiots wasting time and resources that could be better spent.

However, you’re right. It’s easy to say in hindsight, with possession of all the facts, that so-and-so was wasting time, but the whole point is that a prospective patient is *not* in possession of all the facts. I agree with you, and if a system designed to avoid time-wasting meant people with genuine problems stayed away for fear of being fined that would be a huge mark against it.

On the other hand, add together enough minor timewasters and eventually you’ve got someone dead because they weren’t seen in time. That’s my concern – could the current system be refitted to better at its job, i.e. saving and helping people?

I don’t think there’s an easy solution to this one. Ultimately it probably becomes a numbers game.

Absolutely disgusting. And people wonder why the younger generations don’t see being English as anything to be proud of and why many are moving abroad

Have only just discoverd this website and will be a regular reader from now.
I am shocked, but not surprised at the plan to privatise the NHS blood plasma unit, also the plan to charge £25, for whiplash injury treatment, by the privatised Sheffield walk in Centre.
Thanks for highlighting this, Sunny.It does not seem to be publicised elsewhere.

24. David Kirkham

Sheffield Save Our NHS will protest against NHS privatisation and charges for treatment at the Walk in Centre.

Tuesday 24 July, from 4.30 to 6.00pm
Outside the NHS walk-in centre, Rockingham House, Broad Lane, Sheffield, S1 3PB.

(The centre is on the corner of Broad Lane and Rockingham St in the city centre.)

SSONHS believes all health services should be free at the point of use.

We believe that the Government’s health policies, including the budget squeeze and growing private provision, increase the likelihood of charging patients for treatment.

Our protest on Tuesday 24 July will highlight privatisation and cuts and encourage people to campaign against further patient charging.

This issue has received some publicity locally in the past few days – see extract from the Postcode Gazette below.

The NHS walk-in centre on Broad Lane has been charging certain patients for treatment for whiplash injuries from road traffic accidents. NHS Sheffield say this is legal under a road traffic act that was implemented more than 20 years ago. However, it certainly doesn’t sit comfortably with the philosophy of an NHS that is free at the point of use and could set a dangerous precedent for future charging.

Faced with a severe budget squeeze the likelihood of charges being introduced for services grows. The Health and Social Care Act gives powers for CCGs, once authorised, to decide (within NHS Commissioning Group guidelines) what they can include as essential NHS services and what are classed as non-essential and therefore either not available on the NHS or not available free.

The governments insistence that increased use of private providers within the NHS will improve efficiency and patient care are undermined by recent reports of private sector performance. For example Serco have come under severe criticism from the Care Quality Commission for its failure to deliver an adequate GP out of hours service in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Please join our protest and circulate this information. Thanks

25. David Kirkham

‘Legal’ or not, the outcry has worked; One Medicare is dropping charges for whiplash treatment.

Political leaders welcome end to charges at NHS Walk-in Centre

Date: 23/07/2012. Story submitted by: Kevin Meagher

Sheffield political leaders have reacted positively to news that NHS Sheffield and the private contractor running the walk-in centre on Broad Lane has ‘suspended’ a £25 charge for patients reporting with whiplash injuries.

As we exclusively revealed last week, One Medicare, the company running the walk-in centre on a contract from NHS Sheffield, had been charging £25 to treat whiplash, despite no similar charge being levied at the A&E department at the Northern General Hospital.

One Medicare claimed that guidance from the British Medical Association – the doctors’ trade union – allowed them to do so.

However a BMA spokesperson confirmed their guidance was just “an interpretation” of a provision in the Road Traffic Act which permits charging for emergency treatment.

This led to a backlash from political leaders across the city who saw the move as a threat to the founding principles of the National Health Service – that medical treatment is provided free at the point of use.

Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield, who had written to NHS bosses about the controversial charging policy, welcomed the change of heart.

“Charging for treatment breaks the fundamental principle of the NHS and so I very much welcome the suspension of charges at the walk-in centre” he said.

He added: “Well done to Postcode Gazette for revealing this important story and keeping everyone updated on the developments this week.”

Lib Dem Leader on Sheffield City Council Coun Shaffaq Mohammed added: “I’m pleased that after significant public pressure NHS Sheffield have intervened to help reverse this charge.”

He added that the NHS should always remain free at the point of use and that he was “proud” to defend that principle.

A meeting is set to take place tomorrow (Tue) between NHS Sheffield chiefs and One Medicare to officially scrap the whiplash charge.

http://postcodegazette.com/news/9002179102/political-leaders-welcome-end-to-charges-at-nhs-walk-in-centre-AT-sheffield-nhs-walk-in-centre/

SHEFFIELD PEOPLE SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE NHS

Sheffield Save our NHS (SSoNHS) held a highly successful rally in the city centre earlier this week to encourage the public to support the NHS. We got great support from the public, with loads of horn honking and one woman coming out of the centre to tell us what she could do to help the campaign.

We were clear in our message that the HSCA and the budget cuts would mean greater privatisation and potential further charging for services and that the walk in centre charge was a sign of things to come unless people defend the NHS.

SSoNHS spokesperson Jon Ashe said “We’re delighted that so many people showed their support for the NHS and their opposition to the Government’s health policies, which will mean more cuts, more privatisation and more patients being charged for treatment.”

He added “We’re pleased that the Sheffield NHS walk-in centre has now suspended its charging of patients for treatment for whiplash injuries from road traffic accidents. If enough people speak out about what’s happening to the NHS, we can make sure we continue to have a good health service.”


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. cutchswife

    RT @PaulRooke10: OurLeadStory: NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/8u22kQUu,

  2. KATE BUTLER

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  3. Joanna Coates

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  4. Brian Tomkinson

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  5. Jennifer Taylor

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  6. Jan

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  7. jacqueline

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  8. Miss Dolores

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  9. A bloke from Norwich

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  10. gdhanson

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  11. Paulina Franek

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  12. Jethro Perkins

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  13. Fainche

    NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment http://t.co/qLC8avVE and so it begins………….

  14. FiveDee's Cats

    NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment http://t.co/qLC8avVE and so it begins………….

  15. a4e highpark1

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  16. Terence Pyke

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  17. Kathy McCann

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  18. Massimo Zeppetelli

    Is this the beginning of the NHS starting to charge fees? http://t.co/jhOVynUg SCARY

  19. Ray Thomas

    Is this the beginning of the NHS starting to charge fees? http://t.co/jhOVynUg SCARY

  20. David Howell

    Is this the beginning of the NHS starting to charge fees? http://t.co/jhOVynUg SCARY

  21. Tim Holmes

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  22. Kate Bulpitt

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  23. Paul Lloyd

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  24. Jonathan Paylor

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  25. Andy Marshall

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  26. Mike Robinson

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  27. Matt Carey

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  28. Neil Benson

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  29. Chidi Ejimofo

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  30. Jamie

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  31. Matt Harwood

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  32. Jamie P

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  33. Adam Jhugroo

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  34. Hilary Foster

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  35. Lizzie Forbes-Ritte

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  36. Jon Spooner

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  37. laura bowman

    It begins > NHS walk-in centre in Sheffield to charge patients £25 for treatment http://t.co/6XYQtpaX

  38. Kathy Dodworth

    NHS treatment no longer free at the point of delivery. Really, thanks @Number10gov http://t.co/scRzuIoK

  39. Miss Mac

    NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/B6JKRIy4 via @libcon

  40. Liza Harding

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  41. Cllr Krupesh Hirani

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  42. michelle maher

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  43. Patricia Farrington

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  44. Jane

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  45. Wendy Griffin

    Don't get whiplash in Sheffield. If you get treated at One Medicare it'll cost £25 …
    http://t.co/HBIWxSHB

  46. Paul

    Don't get whiplash in Sheffield. If you get treated at One Medicare it'll cost £25 …
    http://t.co/HBIWxSHB

  47. Becky

    This seems to be buried. Sheffield NHS walk in centre starts charging to treat patients with whiplash. http://t.co/RIsFXEgN

  48. Katy Durrans

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  49. christian barbarini

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/5yubUK5i "@suburbanfluff

  50. Sussex UCU

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  51. Rob Crowther

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  52. Steve Rooney

    In case there was any doubt, the NHS is being privatised: http://t.co/78kGZDn3 (Via @PatrickStrud @sunny_hundal @sussexucu)

  53. Sussex UCU

    In case there was any doubt, the NHS is being privatised: http://t.co/78kGZDn3 (Via @PatrickStrud @sunny_hundal @sussexucu)

  54. Robert Down

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  55. Robert Pennington

    Oh for fuck's sake! #FuckNugget. NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4y5lqwrT

  56. The Peoples Party

    NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment
    http://t.co/F23Nx00U "Free at the point of delivery..always" -Cameron you're a lying bastard

  57. NHS RIP

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  58. Peter Marshall

    Privatisation of the NHS is now underway: a walk-in centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25. http://t.co/PKOrlO5H (via @sunny_hundal)

  59. Fatima Avila

    NHS treatment no longer free at the point of delivery. Really, thanks @Number10gov http://t.co/scRzuIoK

  60. Government Robot

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  61. Lee Hyde

    #NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment http://t.co/POoQvKXE /by @sunny_hundal via @libcon « A 'privatised' walk-in centre FTR

  62. Socio Imagination

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  63. Matthew

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  64. NHS centre suspends £25 charge after anger | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] on Tumblr We reported last week that a NHS walk-in centre in Sheffield was to start charging £25 for […]

  65. NORBET

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  66. tracy e

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  67. Andy Bean

    NHS walk-in centre to charge £25 for treatment | Liberal Conspiracy – http://t.co/fl6z2ARt





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