The number of NHS patients undergoing surgical procedures in private hospitals has almost trebled since 2010, reveal figures obtained by the Guardian.
According to the publication, 214,967 people in England received an operation at a private hospital in 2009-2010. This soared to 613,833 last year, a rise of 185 per cent in nine years.
The privatisation of the NHS in the post-Brexit era has become a major concern. US president Donald Trump has said the NHS will be “on the table” in any trade negotiations, although he rolled back on the statement in the face of public outrage.
Last month, the NHS Confederation called for publicly-funded healthcare services to be excluded from the scope of the free trade agreements (FTAs). In a report, the Confederation urged the next government to ensure that trade agreements contain an explicit recognition that governments have the right to enact policies, legislation and regulation with the objective of protecting and promoting public health and safety.
The report states that a post-Brexit trade agreement with the US will not of itself threaten the founding principles of the NHS, but it said that trade agreements should not include publicly- funded health care.
With the higher price tag attached to drugs in the US, there are fears that a trade deal with the US could see a rise in the cost of medications in the UK. The Confederation has cautioned that NHS patients must continue to have early access to generic medicines by resisting the extension of intellectual property rights. It said the government must resist any provisions that could increase the cost of medicines such as changing pricing and reimbursement systems.
An early priority should be to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU, to promote continuity and minimise potential disruption and costs, the report advises.