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Private treatment on the NHS: Sounds like a bonus, could be devastating

Being ‘upgraded’ to private treatment on the NHS seems like a bonus, but as many recent cases have found, it can have devastating consequences for patients.

Celia Corbett from Plympton, near Plymouth suffered third degree burns in a surgical accident while undergoing a routine hip replacement as an NHS patient in a private hospital.

On top of that, she suffered two dislocations of her hip.

Mr Collett was sent to the Haslar Hospital in Portsmouth under a contract between the NHS and a South African Health Company, Netcare.

Netcare bring teams of South African surgeons to Britain to perform operations.

When Mrs Collett was brought round from her operation she was shocked to be informed that her foot had been burnt during the operation. She was told it was superficial and would heal in ten days.

But, what ensued was three months of having to have her foot dressed three times a day until a surgeon finally recommended a skin graft.

She was also in constant pain with her hip and in two months it dislocated twice.

Mrs Colletts GP told her that the prosthesis in her leg was too short and was loose where insufficient cement had been used to fix it.

Naturally, Mrs Collett sought help from the NHS to organise remedial surgery and arrange compensation.

But, the NHS washed its hands of the problem Mrs Collett faced.

Instead, she had to fight for help and when she approached Netcare they agreed to undertake further surgery on Mrs Collett hip, but she had to pay £14,000 if she wanted to go ahead.

It was time to call on a medical negligence specialist, which resulted in a substantial out-of-court settlement.

Six months after the botched operation, Mrs Collett had further surgery performed by an NHS surgeon at a private hospital which was paid for by Netcare.

Swain & Co.’s medical negligence solicitors explain that this is not an isolated incident as Mrs Collett was contacted by five other hip patients who learnt of her legal battle.

They too say that they have had faulty hip operations around the same time as Mrs Collett, performed under the same NHS private contract.

The most worrying issue is that the NHS think that they have no legal responsibility over these patients, thinking this is passed to the private firm.

And the potential for further problems is growing fast as more patients are funnelled into private treatment on the NHS.

There is no government watchdog that monitors misconduct in the private sector and the General Medical Council admits that they have not been watching it either.

Another worrying concern is that when things go wrong, patients who have private treatment on the NHS may find they have no one to sue as the company may have inadequate insurance or may have legally ‘disappeared’.

This happened two weeks ago when the Harley Medical Centre went into administration amid the possible multi-million pound pay-out they may have faced for women who had suffered serious pain and distress after having defective PIP implants fitted.

It transferred all its doctors and clinics to a new company to allow continuation of cosmetic surgery.

Our personal injury lawyers explain that although the company say that those who were scheduled to have the implant removed by Harley Medical will still have this done, the liabilities resulting from class action have perhaps died with the previous company.

We believe that the patient receiving private treatment on the NHS should expect the same rights towards medical negligence as those treated on the NHS.


If you have suffered from medical negligence on the NHS or from a private provider speak to our medical negligence team for free.

We offer you free initial advice to discuss the potential of bringing a claim and the funding options available including No Win No Fee arrangements and Legal Aid.

Contact us for free via email or on 0800 0351 999

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