Leeds NHS hospital trust sent cancer patients private care ads

A YORKSHIRE trust has apologised and is investigating after leaflets offering private care at an NHS hospital were sent to cancer patients with their appointment letters.

St James's University Hospital.
St James's University Hospital.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust enclosed an advert from Nova Healthcare, which runs a private wing at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds, with appointments for NHS chemotherapy.

The Nova Healthcare leaflet has been sent to about 1,000 patients.

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The letter reads: “At Nova Healthcare we provide treatment and the highest standards of personalised care to private patients diagnosed with cancer, blood disorders and a range of neurological conditions.

“We work in partnership with Leeds Cancer Centre, which, as one of the largest and most specialist cancer centres in Europe, is recognised as a leader in research and innovation.

“As a patient of Nova Healthcare you’ll benefit from access to the latest and most innovative technologies and therapies and enjoy consultant-led care from clinicians who are world-renowned specialists in their respective fields.”

There are also posters advertising Nova Healthcare on the NHS cancer wards at the hospital.

Breast cancer patient Ali Schofield, 33, whose cancer has spread and who is receiving chemotherapy treatment, tweeted: “Disgusted to receive this.””

She tweeted a photograph of the letter from Nova Healthcare.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are very sorry for any distress caused by the inclusion of information about private healthcare in our patient letter.

“As soon as we were able to look into our patient’s concerns, we apologised in person and publicly. We stopped sending the leaflet immediately and are reviewing its use.

“Since October 2016 we have sent out around 1 million letters to patients; fewer than 1,000 Nova leaflets were included in patient letters.

“Nova is commissioned by NHS England to provide specialist ‘gamma knife’ radiotherapy to NHS patients using facilities owned by Nova.

“The Trust has a commercial relationship with Nova Healthcare under which the company leases accommodation on our campus at St James’s University Hospital to provide consulting and day care for private patients.

“NHS patients receive the same standard of clinical care and have access to the same medical technology as patients who choose to receive their care in private facilities.”