Advice line: Communication is key. Handling concurrent NHS/private care

What should you do if a patient is receiving care from the NHS and the private sector? Ruth ten Hove responds

Patients who choose to be treated privately are entitled to NHS services on exactly the same basis of clinical need as any other patient.

They should not have NHS treatment withdrawn or refused because they also have private care. This applies to all four UK countries.

Concurrent physiotherapy treatment often raises questions and concerns. While each situation should be assessed on its merits, physios need to be mindful of a number of issues.

Private and NHS care should be kept as clearly separate as possible; the patient should be in no doubt which aspects of their care is NHS and which are privately funded. Both providers of care should carry appropriate and separate insurance.

All physios have a duty to share information with others providing care and treatment for their patients.

This includes NHS physios providing information to private ones or other regulated practitioners and vice versa. In rare circumstances a conflict in approach may be difficult to resolve.

The practitioners involved should first try to resolve this through good communication. If this can’t be resolved, however, the patient should be invited to choose.

When a patient does wish to continue with both therapists, then both physiotherapists will need to decide how best to resolve the situation, which may indeed require one therapist to take the lead.

In this situation, it is important that regular communication is maintained and treatment plans and goals are openly discussed, so that all parties are aware of, and are happy with, the agreed management plan.

When a patient chooses the private sector, the NHS physiotherapist should explain to the patient that they can, if necessary, re-start NHS treatment following completion of their therapy with the private sector practitioner.

The patient should be given details as to how to refer themselves back to the NHS service should they wish to re-start.   For more guidance, visit the CSP website and search for ‘concurrent’.   Ruth ten Hove is a CSP professional adviser

Ruth ten Hove

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