Doctors are increasingly being asked to pay up to £100,000 for services that may not be needed and in some cases even unnecessary, according to a damning report into the NHS.
In a damning review of NHS pay-to-service practices, a report published on Tuesday (April 13) by a UK Government inquiry into the care of people over 65 found the NHS pays out more than £4.6 billion to health providers each year to take on the care and treatment of people in their 80s, 90s and beyond.
This figure does not include any pay-for-performance payments, such as “insurance premiums” for care or a share of the cost of a patient’s care, as these are paid directly by patients themselves.
However, the Government said it would review its pay-off system to “make sure it reflects the current economic climate and ensures that payments are being made to people who are in a better position to take their own care”.
This is despite evidence that the NHS’s financial position has worsened since 2010.
For instance, the average amount the NHS spends on its nursing homes is around £3.6 million a year, a decrease of more than 60 per cent from 2009.
And this has been despite the fact that nursing homes are generally under-used by the elderly.
As well as the financial impact of this on the NHS, it has also increased pressures on its aged care workforce.
The report found that more than one in 10 nurses aged 65 and over had spent more than 40 hours a week caring for patients over the past two years, a number that has tripled over the last four years.
It also found that, in the past five years, the proportion of the nursing staff aged 65 or over who had spent at least 40 hours caring for a patient has doubled, from 1.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
And it found that the proportion working on the elderly was falling, with the proportion aged 65 to 74 falling by more than a third over the same period.
This suggests that the Government is paying too much to the NHS in the short term, rather than saving it for future generations.
The findings are a significant indictment of the NHS payback system, which is designed to give hospitals the flexibility to keep patients and their care costs low.
The NHS pay back scheme has already been criticised by the NHS Confederation, which says that it is too easy for hospitals to reduce the amount of care that a patient receives by “overcharging” them.
The Government has responded to the report, saying it will review its current pay-back system.
The Department for Health said it “is committed to ensuring that the pay-out system is fair and reflects the NHS workforce’s changing needs”.
It also announced a new strategy to tackle “frequent use” and “predictive payment” of care.
It said that while the NHS has always paid the lowest proportion of what is needed, it will be investing more to “develop new payment models that deliver higher quality care and better value for money”.
The report by the Government inquiry was launched after a number of high profile cases in which the NHS had paid out more money to elderly people than they needed.
A man in his 80s was admitted to hospital with a heart attack after being treated for a heart infection in his 60s and left with a life-threatening condition after being left to die in his care.
In 2014, the then Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, was forced to apologise after her department paid out £11 million in back-dated payments to patients over 80 years of age, which were due to have been repaid after he died.
The inquiry found that there was no provision in the current payback scheme to allow hospitals to make this payment in an emergency.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The NHS pays a higher proportion of care costs to people over the age of 80 than the private sector and as such it is a priority for the Government to make sure that the appropriate funding is available to ensure the best care for our patients.”
However, some critics say that the current system is not working, because the NHS does not pay for the treatment of older people and they do not have the money to pay for it themselves.
One elderly woman who spoke to The Huffington Email, a healthcare support charity, said that in the late 80s she paid £1,000 a month for a physiotherapy treatment for her arthritis and was “never asked to do anything”.
The elderly woman said: When I came home, my husband was on a disability pension, and he was very sick and didn’t have the energy to work.
So I just started to walk.
I was walking home with my grandson, and I just had to go and sit on the porch, so he could walk around with his cane.
My husband could only walk three times a week, so I had to walk four times a day.
My grandson was in the car with me.
I told him to sit in