If a public hospital has done all the work it’s funded for and has no money to do any more procedures but does have the staff and equipment, should it be able to do so with private money?
More to the point, is it ethical to refuse treatment which could be provided if someone pays just because not everyone else can?
Providing private paying patients aren’t taking precedence over those whose procedures are publicly funded when the funds are available, I don’t see any problem with public hospitals providing privately funded services.
But I do think there’s an ethical issue if the hospitals aren’t able to provide services when the only issue is where the money is coming from.
Oncologist Dr Chris Jackson explains the thinking behind private funding for some procedures in public hospitals in the ODT.
Allowing public hospital cancer patients to have the option of paying for drugs not available through the public system would not mean the beginning of the end of the public health system . . .
. . . The consultation document states it is important for the hospital’s priority to be providing publicly funded services and that provision of extra treatments should not affect the care of patients receiving the publicly funded treatment. . .
Not everyone supports the idea but it sounds to me that those who oppose it don’t understand that paying patients wouldn’t be shoving others aside and they’re letting politics get in the way of ethics.
P.S. A personal example of when the private-public stand-off gets silly. Our baby son needed an MRI scan in 1989 when New Zealand’s only scanner was in a private hopsital in Auckland. Rather than sending us there, we were flown to Sydney.