The British government has been forced to pay out £11.6m to NHS hospitals after it was found to have broken rules that prevent NHS staff from charging patients for their care.
The £11,000 payout was announced on Thursday after the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCPS) recommended that NHS hospitals should pay patients for the same care as they would pay for it in private hospitals.
The money will go towards fixing the NHS’s “unacceptable” billing system, the RCPS said.
“We have no control over how the money is spent,” said Dr Chris Farrar, a GP and director of the Royal British College of General Practitioners (RBCGP), a charity that supports the NHS.
“It’s not the government’s responsibility to make sure the NHS does what it says it will do.”
It has been reported that the Government has also paid for the treatment of patients who have not been admitted to hospital.
A number of patients have been refused treatment by the NHS after being referred to hospitals by friends, relatives or others for treatment, the charity said.
The RCPS, which represents nearly 1,000 GP practices, has recommended that the Royal London Hospital, the Royal Sussex Hospital, King’s College Hospital and the Royal Liverpool Hospital all have a “zero-tolerance” policy towards charging patients.
NHS patients should be offered the same level of care as their private counterparts, the RBCGP said.
However, the government has yet to release a response to the report.
“This is a hugely significant and consequential finding,” said Farrary.
“The Government’s response to it will set the tone for how the NHS is run.”
The RCSP has also called for the Royal Free Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Kings College Hospital, and Royal Liverpool Hospitals to make arrangements for private treatment for all patients with a serious condition.