Health Secretary John Reid's five-year plan for the NHS encourages consumer choice but there are still few incentives to contribute to PMI, according to industry experts.
Reid hopes that over £90bn will go to the NHS by 2008. His plan for the private sector is for the NHS to continue to bulk-buy routine operations. Reid thinks 10 to 15 per cent of NHS operations could take place in private hospitals by 2014.
But incentives to continue to contribute to healthcare are not included in the proposition. The industry has lobbied unsuccessfully for tax breaks for individuals and businesses as one way to promote PMI and alleviate pressure from the NHS. The private sector treats nearly a million patients a year.
The Tories have pledged to pay half of the cost of an NHS operation for people who choose private alternatives.
Bupa Insurance managing director Fergus Kee says: “Bupa believes there will always be a role for private healthcare because it offers real choice and not just the choice that the Government wants the patients to have.”