“This is a crisis of the Government’s own making"
Medical professionals have expressed concern over Sajid Javid’s remarks that patients should be charged for GP appointments and A&E visits.
Mr Javid claimed that the current NHS model is “unsustainable”.
He called for a redesign that will address rising waiting times with means-tested payments while safeguarding people with low incomes.
In an opinion-based piece, Sajid Javid proposed “extending the contributory principle” should be part of radical reforms to tackle current medical waiting times.
He called for a “grown-up, hard-headed conversation about alternatives”.
Additionally, he highlighted that “too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform”.
Mr Javid continued: “We should look, on a cross-party basis, at extending the contributory principle.
“This conversation will not be easy but it can help the NHS ration its finite supply more effectively.”
His comments angered the public, with many pointing out that taxes and National Insurance payments already cover the cost of GP consultations and A&E visits.
Activists have also attacked his ideas, which jeopardise the NHS’s core values of universal access to care at the point of need.
We already pay for GP and A&E visits through tax and national insurance.
Hope that helps.https://t.co/mc2gKbSP1X
— NHS Million ? (@NHSMillion) January 21, 2023
Dr Nick Mann, a GP and member of Keep Our NHS Public, a non-party-political organisation campaigning against the privatisation and underfunding of the NHS, said:
“In practical terms, charging patients to access their GP or for an A&E visit is a zombie idea which is expensive to operate and acts as a deterrent to the patient groups most in need of healthcare.
“The population already pays for the NHS via taxation.
“The idea of charging patients extra to access essential medical care is a slippery slope – just look at dentistry.
“This is a crisis of the Government’s own making; their failure to invest in the NHS over the last 13 years has led to a situation where the unthinkable is now being posed.
“Instead of introducing charging, the Government should be investing in a public service where all are protected.
“This lame posturing has replaced competence and integrity and is yet another distraction-by-culture-war from this government.”
Professor Philip Banfield, chair of the British Medical Association Council, said:
“Charging patients for using the health service would threaten the fundamental principle of the NHS that must be protected – free care for all at the point of need.
“For too long, the health service has been underfunded and under-resourced, in particular since 2010 when austerity bit hard.
“It is because of the Government’s repeated and misguided ideological mistakes that the NHS went into the Covid-19 pandemic massively underprepared and is now facing a mammoth backlog of care.
“Between 2010 and 2019, average day-to-day health spending in the UK was £3,005 per person – 18 per cent below the EU14 average of £3,655.
“The country is now paying the price for this lack of long-term investment through increasingly poorer health.”
Despite Sajid Javid’s proposal, the Prime Minister is not currently considering the proposal.
Rishi Sunak outlined ideas to charge people who miss GP and hospital appointments £10 during his run for the Tory leadership.
However, he then changed his mind after it received harsh criticism from medical authorities.
It highlighted the controversy surrounding any changes that would jeopardise the idea of free NHS treatment for those in need.