“Self Funded” NHS Patients

A new phenomenon is appearing in Foundation Trusts: “self-funded NHS Patients”. This concept has arisen due to commissioners raising treatment thresholds or removing funding entirely for some treatments. It occurs mostly in fertility services where there is a patient demand, but due to the cost there is increasing NHS rationing. For example, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital brochure for its Assisted Conception Unit [1] has the following:

When it comes to paying for fertility treatment, there are two options:

• You may be eligible for funding from the NHS
• If you are not eligible for funding from the NHS, you can ‘self-fund’ the cost of your treatment and drugs

The brochure explains self-funding, thus:

If you are not eligible for funding from the NHS, you can ‘self-fund’ the cost of your treatment and drugs. You are charged the same as the NHS cost. Patients self-funding their treatment receive exactly the same care as patients funded by the NHS. Self-funded patients are liable for all associated costs for treatment and investigations.

Kings College Hospital Assisted Conception Unit also offers self-funding [2]:

Anyone who does not fulfill the criteria may opt to self-fund their treatment

Homerton University Hospital also provides “self-funded” treatment for fertility services [3]:

The second way is self-funded care. This is where you receive the same service as NHS funded patients but you choose to fund your own treatment if you do not meet the eligibility criteria for NHS funded treatment or do not want to wait for NHS funding to become available. Self-funding patients are seen for treatment in NHS clinics by doctors and nurses who are on duty at the time of their appointment. If you wish to be self-funding you will still need to have been referred by either your GP or a hospital in order to be seen.

Homerton give an additional criterion for self-funding: if you “do not want to wait”. The statement above is current (as of December 2012) the previous version of the last sentence claimed that self-funded patients were “NHS patients”:

As NHS patients, if you wish to be self-funding you will still need to have been referred by either your GP or a hospital in order to be seen.

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[1] www.chelwest.nhs.uk/services/womens-health-services/assisted-conception-unit-acu/links/ACU-Brochure.pdf
[2] www.kch.nhs.uk/service/a-z/acu
[3] www.homerton.nhs.uk/our-services/fertility-centre/funding-your-treatment/