New service for private patients

Jean Wormwell
Jean Wormwell

A NEW Private Patient Unit service is to start at Bridlington Hospital.

The satellite cardiology clinic led by a consultant cardiologist is the first private patient clinic at the hospital and will operate on the first Friday of every month starting in November.

Operated by the Private Patient Unit of Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust, it will pay the Trust for the use of the premises, equipment, any operating theatre time.

A Trust spokesperson said the money the Private Patient Unit makes is re-invested back into the trust and into services. During the past nine years more than £3 million profit has been re-invested in the Trust through the work of the Private Patient Unit at Scarborough Hospital.

The Bridlington clinic, led by Dr Tim Houghton will be for assessment and may also take echocardiograph scans of the heart.

A similar clinic operates at Scarborough.

The Trust believes the Bridlington service would provide a more convenient and accessible clinic for local private patients rather than travelling to Scarborough or Hull.

But according to one local hospital campaigner, the introduction of private services will upset local people and existing NHS users.

“We have been trying to get so many more services for NHS patients at Bridlington, like minor skin cancer surgery and cataract surgery. This won’t go down well at all, it is like a red rag to a bull,” said Jean Wormwell, secretary of Pensioners Action Group East Riding, PAGER, which chairs the local Health Forum.

“We have been told nothing about this and I will be discussing with the Trust as soon as I can. I have nothing against private patients, and I understand it is a way for the Trust to earn a bit of money but I am beginning to wonder if this is the thin edge of the wedge,” she said.

The Bridlington Private Patient Unit, PPU, was born out of the closure in June 2002 of the 32 bed BUPA private Belvedere Hospital in Scarborough when all staff were made redundant.

Consultants from Scarborough Hospital wanted to continue to provide private healthcare locally and reached an agreement with the hospital trust for some staff to transfer and for private work to be carried out at the hospital.

Since then the PPU at Scarborough hospital has supported both medical and surgical practice in the area and this has helped maintain the quality of consultant care. A team of 30 consultants treat patients with a wide range of conditions from orthopaedic surgery to general surgery, cardiology, urology and ophthalmology. Orthopaedic procedures are one of the most popular areas of private patient work together with ophthalmic cataract surgery.

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