One NHS Walk-in Centre in Sheffield will no longer be charging patients for whiplash injury treatment after a protest against the controversial charges.
The firm that runs the walk-in centre on behalf of the NHS, One Medicare, had made the decision to charge patients £25 for whiplash treatment, citing high whiplash claim volumes in the region. Doctors have been permitted to charge patients specifically for whiplash injury diagnosis and treatment since a 1988 law, but it has only been recently that the law has been used as a justification for the fee.
The Sheffield NHS has welcomed the decision on the part of One Medicare, with one spokesman remarking that all of its patients should receive free healthcare at the point of delivery, regardless of whether or not they are considering a personal injury claim for whiplash injury. One Medicare’s decision to charge patients was criticised widely once the news broke last week, with Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, questioning the wisdom of such a fee in the House of Commons.
Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Central Labour MP, added his voice to the dissent by claiming the walk-in centre was going counter to NHS fundamental principles of free healthcare at the point of use as well. Many Lib Dem and Labour councillors in Sheffield echoed Mr Blomfield, with local GP and Sheffield Green Party Leader Jillian Creasy adding that One Medicare’s attempt to monetise medical services is an unfortunate side-effect of allowing private companies to run medical facilities such as walk-in centres.
A demonstration had been planned for next week in order to protest the charges, organised by Sheffield Save our NHS. However, it was unknown if these demonstrations will now be cancelled in the wake of this new information.