A Private Members Bill that sets out to end the core NHS principle that the NHS is free at the point of clinical need has its second reading tomorrow, Friday 11th May.
Luckily it is apparently fifth on the Order Paper, so it’s very unlikely to be debated. If they get beyond the first two it’s unusual.
The National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill 2017-19 is sponsored by a Conservative MP, Christopher Chope.
As a consequence of new care models to be delivered by contentious Accountable/Integrated Care Systems, the line is increasingly being blurred between privatised means-tested social care, and publicly funded and provided NHS care that is free at the point of need. This is not in the interests of patients.
An account of the scandalous injustice of this is given by GP Dr Louise Irvine, here.
This Bill would worsen this erosion of the core NHS principle that the NHS is free at the point of clinical need. It threatens to end the important distinction between private healthcare and the NHS, and to accelerate the development of a two tier system where those who can pay receive more and better healthcare than those who rely solely on the NHS.
As GP Bob Gill says:
“Ever wondered why Government wanted to spend a fortune on the charging infrastructure for collecting relatively insignificant sums from illegal immigrants using the NHS?
Well that was the cover story. Reality is that charging was always intended to apply to everyone.
Here is the Bill to extend charging to all.”
Please tell your MPs to attend the debate and to argue and vote against it, whatever party they are
Here is how to contact your MP.
Template emails are downloadable from the 999 Call for the NHS website.
This Tory MP’s Private Members Bill seeks to undermine the Conservative government’s stated policy that the NHS will and must remain free at the point of need. This policy is what the government was elected on – surely most Conservative MPs would not wish to allow it to be undermined?
“make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS
services in England; and for connected purposes.”
This gobblydegook needs explaining.
The Bill would radically alter the current situation, where NHS care is free of charge to patients – unless regulations have been brought into effect to provide for a contribution towards the cost of care being met by the patient.
Such charges are currently limited to prescription charges and some clinical activity undertaken by opticians and dentists. These are subject to regulations made under the National Health Service Act 2006. These are the only forms of co-payment currently permitted.
The Bill would alter the current situation through amending section 1 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to include:
“the charges form part of an agreement in England for co-funding or co-payment”,
This would make co-funding permissible, as an arrangement under which the cost of an episode of care within the NHS (for example an outpatient visit, an operation, etc) would be part funded by an NHS commissioner and part funded privately by the patient or on their behalf.
Currently co-funding is NOT permitted within the NHS – apart from the limited forms of co-payment permitted under regulations, as identified above. Plus, I believe, an exception was introduced in 2008 when health secretary Alan Johnson lifted the ban on top-up payments in order to allow cancer patients to pay for drugs denied them by the NHS.
The reason why co-funding is not permitted in the NHS (apart from exceptions noted above) is that it would undermine the core principle that the NHS is a comprehensive service equally available to all with a clinical need.
The introduction of co-funding into the NHS would speed the development of a two tier system where those with money would get more and better health care than those who could not afford to privately fund part of their NHS treatment.
Please ask your MP to make sure to attend the debate and make these crucial points in defence of the key principle and policy that the NHS is and must remain a comprehensive health service that is free for everyone at the point of their clinical need. Please also ask your MP to vote against the Bill.