Something else we already know! – NHS doctors who work in private healthcare “on the side” are directly harming the health service, a senior consultant has said. In an article in the medical journal the BMJ, cardiologist Dr John Dean said that he had stopped working in the private sector after realising the “direct adverse affects on the NHS”
What took him so long to work that out?
Many experienced NHS doctors run or work in a private practice alongside their NHS work. There are no rules against it in principle but consultant contracts stipulate there must be no conflict of interest between the two.
However, Dr Dean, who has supplemented his main income from Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust with private work, writes that any time spent in the private sector deprives the NHS of consultants’ hours, and warned that private practice creates “a perverse incentive” to increase NHS waiting times.
“I realised that, in all conscience, I could not go on with it,” he writes. “no matter how high I set my own moral and ethical standards I could not escape the fact that I was involved in a business where the conduct of some was so venal, it bordered on criminal – the greedy preying on the needy.”
The British Medical Association (BMA), the doctors’ professional body and union, said that contracts made clear there should be no conflict of interest with NHS work, and that consultants who wanted to work privately must first offer to do extra NHS work, and consider the NHS “the priority”.