§ Tim Loughton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients have billed NHS trusts for operations carried out in the private sector; and how many of these were paid and at what cost. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 29 October 2002]: National health service trusts do not have the power to reimburse patients for operations they choose to have carried out in the private sector. Occasionally circumstances arise in which NHS trusts decide that it is appropriate, on a case by case basis, to make an ex-gratia payment in connection with such treatment. The Department does not hold information on the number of such payments, nor their costs.