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Jane Bates: Telling patients the cost of their care is immoral

Jane Bates argues that ‘wisening up’ patients by telling them the cost of their healthcare to the NHS is a step too far.
Worried_Senior-iStock.jpg

Jane Bates argues that wisening up patients by telling them the cost of their healthcare to the NHS is a step too far

How about this, said a friend, an experienced occupational therapist, who was dismayed about the lack of joined-up thinking where NHS provision and social care are concerned.

This is her field of work, so she is familiar with bed-blocking and all it entails. She also knows how demanding some members of the public can be, while others in greater need are not receiving their due.

Maybe what should be done, is to wise patients up about the real cost of their treatment. she said.

Guilty feelings

I am not sure about this. To present each patient with

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Jane Bates argues that ‘wisening up’ patients by telling them the cost of their healthcare to the NHS is a step too far


Telling the frailest and most dependent patients the cost of their care would be
immoral, says Jane Bates. Picture: iStock

‘How about this,’ said a friend, an experienced occupational therapist, who was dismayed about the lack of joined-up thinking where NHS provision and social care are concerned. 

This is her field of work, so she is familiar with bed-blocking and all it entails. She also knows how demanding some members of the public can be, while others in greater need are not receiving their due. 

‘Maybe what should be done, is to wise patients up about the real cost of their treatment.’ she said. 

Guilty feelings

I am not sure about this. To present each patient with a fairytale bill could make some people angry (what do we pay our taxes for?); some would be anxious (I’ve had a hip replacement and have diabetes, does that mean I’ve used my quota?); while others would feel guilty about ‘bothering the doctor’. 

For the majority of patients – the frailest and most dependent who swallow up a massive chunk of the NHS budget – it would be immoral and pointless to provide them with such information.  

And who would present patients with this unwelcome piece of data? Nursing staff, of course, who have more than enough to do without getting into arguments – even civilised discussions – about NHS funding.

By all means let’s educate the public generally about the cost of a healthcare system like ours, which is free at the point of delivery. But making it personal? This is a step too far in my book. 


About the author

Jane Bates 

 

 

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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