Private-patient money to be used for new hospital

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38050858)

THE Health Department is aiming to double its income from private patients over the next five years to generate money that will be “reinvested to support capacity and upgraded facilities for patients” – including in the new hospital.

The Private Patients Services Strategy 2024 to 2028, published this week, sets out how Health and Community Services plans to boost private-patient revenue to £18.8 million before the end of 2026 and £24 million before the end of 2028.

Private patients services contributed £12.2 million to Health in 2023, which is around 5% of the department’s overall budget.

The report explained that every pound private patients services makes “is invested into the delivery of care to HCS patients for the benefit of all Islanders”.

Health has identified two main untapped income sources: first, an estimated £5.3 million could be sourced from insured patients who are receiving state-funded care, and £12.8 million from insured patients who are leaving the Island to receive private care.

Health Minister Tom Binet said: “This strategy signals a commitment to expand the choice of service provision to Islanders by enhancing the private healthcare offer, attracting skilled professionals to Jersey and increasing income to be used for the benefit of all Islanders.

“Our society is diverse, and encouraging private patients services can support a better balance of healthcare spending and prioritisation towards those who depend most on state-funded care.”

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38050724)

Some of the methods to increase revenue outlined in the strategy include looking at partnerships both in and outside of Jersey, including with Guernsey, private medical insurers, Jersey employers, individual consultants and consultant groups.

The strategy’s authors added: “There is appetite within the government for a consideration of discussing with private medical insurers options to extend non-state funded care, including tax breaks and/or other incentives for insurance policies.

“There will also be engagement with employers to think about supporting increasing the range of non-pay benefits as cash pay rises have been challenged by inflation levels.

“Is it time for private healthcare cover to be part of an attractive benefits package for all Island employees?”

Health also wants the service to “become more commercial in outlook” by lowering fees and encouraging Islanders to use local private healthcare rather than seeking it outside of the Island.

It added: “The HCS private patient service will create a surplus that will, in full, be reinvested to support capacity and upgraded facilities for patients including in the New Healthcare Facilities Programme.

“It generates additional tax revenues, contributes towards hospital operational costs and supports the Island’s economy, leading to improved resilience and stability for Jersey’s healthcare system.”

Chief officer of Health Chris Bown said private patient services would need to be an “important part” of plans to build the new hospital.

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