POLL – Should NHS patients be charged for GP and A&E visits?

PMQs: Sunak and Starmer clash over NHS waiting times

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Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said patients should be charged for GP appointments and Accident and Emergency visits, criticising the NHS model as “unsustainable”. He claimed that “extending the contributory principle” should be included as part of reforms to the health service, but do you agree? Vote in our poll.

The Tory MP said in an opinion piece for The Times that he wants to see the NHS reformed, calling for a “grown-up, hard-headed conversation”. He added that “too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform”.

He 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.”

Mr Javid said the current rationing system of growing waiting lists should be replaced with means-tested fees, protecting individuals on low incomes. He highlighted Ireland’s “nominal” €75 (£66) fee for attending an injury unit without a referral and the £20 fee for GP appointments in Norway and Sweden as potential models for the UK.

In response, Downing Street said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is not “currently” considering the suggestion. Mr Sunak proposed a £10 fine for patients who miss NHS GP or hospital appointments during his Tory leadership campaign but retracted his pledge following criticism over the principle of free care.  

Dr Nick Mann, GP and member of the non-party-political campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, told inews.co.uk: “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.”

So what do YOU think? Should NHS patients be charged? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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