Hospitals to hand out itemised 'bills' to patients
PATIENTS discharged from hospital could be given a breakdown of how much their treatment has cost the NHS.
Hospital bosses are considering the move to raise awareness of how much various tests, procedures and visits cost, encouraging patients to "value" and "appreciate" the service.
Hull And East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Phil Morley said some people attend the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Hull Royal Infirmary, requesting painkillers for headaches.
He said one of those visits alone costs the NHS £150.
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Mr Morley, who could introduce the printout of costs by the end of next year, said: "I don't think people recognise the value of what we have in the NHS.
"What we get for free, we often take for granted.
"It's reminding people how precious the NHS is.
"We have people coming into A&E for paracetamol because they have a headache. It costs an A&E visit for something they could get for pennies.
"We still prescribe paracetamol for people.
"Is that right when most people have it at home in their cupboards?"
The trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, is under pressure to save £99m.
The efficiency savings have to be made by 2018 and include ward closures and bed losses.
Mr Morley said the budget for one person's health each year in England is about £1,700.
But some patients need more treatment than others, depending on their condition or problem, and the cost of operations, procedures and tests vary.
"Some people will be surprised by what they think is a tiny cost," said Mr Morley.
"It's a lot of money and some people will be staggered.
"I want people to recognise the value and preciousness of what we have and see if it helps us all make better choices, make people stop and think about what we need to do differently.
"The NHS is all of ours and when somebody has been through A&E eight times in a month, it's a lot of money.
"But I don't want people to feel this is a disincentive for coming in.
"It's so people make the best use of the NHS and appreciate it.
"If you had been in the US, you would have had to pay for it."
Mr Morley said a review of wastage in theatres led to a £150,000 saving and he hopes the breakdown of costs, which is to be discussed by trust officials, will heighten awareness.
"This isn't about changing people, it's about a being conscious," he said.
"If that care could have been given somewhere that is just as good but cheaper, is hospital the right place to be?
"The hospital needs to be there when you need it.
"We do fantastic things and save lives but we also spend £500m a year as a trust.
"We want people to be aware of the valuable resources we have and use them more wisely."