TWENTY-TWO doctors treated almost four thousand private patients using Western Trust facilities over the past three years, the Sentinel can reveal.
Sixteen of the consultants used facilities at Altnagelvin for the treatment of 753 private patients.
The total figure for private patients treated using public facilities in the Western Trust was 3,748 over the past three years.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Sentinel, the Trust said it dealt with hospital fees for private patients but didn’t know how much the consultants in question were paid as this was a matter between doctors and patients themselves.
A spokesperson stated: “The Trust does not hold separate information on payments by doctors/consultants for the use of facilities for private practice.
“The prices that the Trust charges for private patients would include an element for use of premises but this cannot be separated out from total income received by the Trust.
“The Trust deals with hospital fees for private patients and does not raise invoices for professional consultants’ fees. This is a matter between patient and consultant.”
The Trust confirmed the 3,748 patients included inpatients, day case and outpatients.
The spokesperson confirmed: “The Trust does not know how much income Consultants receive directly from private patients so are unable to provide this detail.”
According to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS): “The provision of accommodation and services for private patients must not interfere with the Trust’s duty to provide health service accommodation and services, or operate to the disadvantage of those who are, or wish to become, Health Service patients.”