We answer your questions on patients' rights in the NHS and independent sector
‘Can patients receive care within the NHS and independent sector at the same time? What are their rights?’
As pressure mounts on NHS services, many people are seeking help from physiotherapists in the independent sector either instead of, or in addition to, NHS care. These patients are entitled to NHS services on exactly the same basis as any other patient. They should not have treatment withdrawn, refused or be put at any advantage or disadvantage because they are receiving treatment elsewhere.
Patients have a right to choose where they seek treatment, and in some cases this can result in them receiving concurrent treatment in different sectors simultaneously. In this situation, practitioners should work collaboratively to ensure effective risk management, timely sharing of information, continuity of care, appropriate safeguarding and effective communication.
Concurrent treatment can only be refused on grounds of the best available clinical evidence, for example when it is clear that the effects of two simultaneous treatments will be detrimental to that patient.
This is also true for inpatients in the NHS. If they feel they are not receiving an appropriate level of rehabilitation for example, they may seek to supplement their treatment by asking a private physiotherapist to visit them during their stay. In this case the NHS trust becomes responsible for any activity being carried out on its premises, as the trust holds a duty of care towards its patients. It is good practice on the part of the trust to have a clear and well-communicated policy as to how these matters should be dealt with at local level. This may include issuing an honorary contract to the visiting practitioner, so that matters regarding health and safety and clinical risk management are dealt with clearly by the organisation.
We receive many enquiries from members regarding concurrent treatment. So we have recently updated our guidance titled 'Concurrent and subsequent treatment - Advice to physiotherapists working in the NHS and private sectors' and added some FAQs to support members.
- Sara Conroy is a CSP professional adviser
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