Proposed new £10 per month charge for the NHS...
Some people say the NHS is what makes Britain great, and the principle of free healthcare for all is one cherished by many. Now, however, a Labour peer is calling for NHS treatment to be limited to those contributing a monthly fee in order to become NHS members.
In a report published by think-tank Reform, Lord Warner, who was in charge of health service reform under the Blair government, is calling for a combination of membership fees and ringfenced taxes to protect the NHS and guard it against collapse under the weight of chronic illnesses.
Currently NHS spending is protected in Governmental budgets, but Lord Warner argues that this “risks seriously damaging other public services” as a consequence.
In addition to earmarking sin taxes as going directly to the NHS and increasing inheritance tax, the report also suggests that “some form of social care tax” could be introduced in middle age. Whenever that is. Lord Warner cites the case of Japan, which introduced a such a compulsory levy in 2000, which “helped considerably to fund the care costs of their ageing population”.
An NHS “membership fee”, which would be gathered along with the council tax, of around £10 per month should also become compulsory and would fund preventative care but would also entitle each “member” of working age to a health “MOT”. Groups entitled to free prescriptions would be exempted.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The founding principles of the NHS make it universally free at point of use and we are clear that it will continue to be so. This government doesn’t support the introduction of membership fees or anything like them.
“But we know that with an ageing population there’s more pressure on the NHS, which is why we need changes to services that focus far more on health prevention out of hospitals.”
So is it just a matter of time until we all have to dig into our pockets? Or is there a better alternative?