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NHS charges are certain if Tories win election

Save our NHS, nurse image by Chris MillettThe BMA rightly raises the spectre of the NHS being subject to charges for medical treatment after the election. This has become a real threat as a result of Tory policy over the last 5 years – partly from the unprecedented imposition of £20bn cuts amounting to nearly a fifth of the entire NHS budget, and partly as a result from a third or more of hospital trusts now being in deficit and a growing minority being cast into actual bankruptcy. All three political parties deny they have any such plans, and of course it would be politically suicidal if they did anything else. But are they all credible? The Tories have hugely increased charging for social care by imposing 40% cuts in the social care of the elderly and disabled. They have expanded private dental care to such a degree in cost and coverage that DIY dental first aid kit is now growing fast – one estimate now by DenTek, one of the biggest sellers of kits, claims there are already a quarter of a million users. And there are other reasons too why charging is very likely to be Tory policy after the election.

The Tories are now deploying the same tactic over the NHS that they’ve already applied over the Welfare State as a whole. Create a deficit and then argue there’s no alternative but to pay it off either by cutting benefits, reducing services or imposing charges. It’s no accident the government’s budget deficit has come down at a glacial pace and is still stuck at £92bn. That suits the Tories very well because it provides the perfect excuse to make further huge cuts, notably the additional £12bn Osborne has promised for the next parliament. Similarly, they would never dare charging £10 for a visit to the doctor – the most likely first element in a new charging system- if they hadn’t first deliberately generated the huge current NHS deficit by paying for the NHS merely in nominal terms, i.e. without taking account of inflation, let alone the higher than inflation annual costs of a rising elderly population and fast rising drug and medical technology prices.

The Tories have therefore landed a charge bombshell on the NHS. The forecast £30bn gap in the NHS budget by 2020 is to be filled by £22bn efficiency savings (i.e. cuts) plus £8bn of extra annual funding from the Treasury (i.e. an increase in privatisation and outsourcing). The real answer to the plight of the NHS is two-fold. End Osborne’s lethal policy of contracting the economy in favour of steady expansion to generate sustainable growth, real jobs, higher incomes, and increased government tax receipts to pay off the deficit faster. Second, in that very different context end any further cuts to the NHS and recognise that higher public spending on the NHS is justified when the health service in the UK absorbs only 8% of GDP compared with 10-11% in Germany and France and 17% in the US.

4 Comments

  1. David Ellis says:

    I think they are pretty nailed on if Labour wins too.

  2. Robert says:

    I mean what would labour do go around looking for expensive houses to tax or cheaper ones to tax. The fact is the people of this country would say yes to tax rises to save the NHS but labour would not rise taxes.

    The NHS is in trouble now because labour has said no to selling it off, for now it would not surprise me if progress ended up saying yes to a sell off, but Miliband is now just the puppet with his £2 billion tax on houses would last about six months in fact it would not even pay off the debt so what then.

    My MP said in a meeting to read between the lines of what Miliband is saying, how the hell can you do that.

    No to borrowing not to tax rises. so what can you read between those lines …

  3. Robert says:

    The NHS is now devolved is that not right so this would be an English issue . And with Blair back I’m not so sure labour would not be looking at this, after all did labour not state they would have charges I seem to remember New labour saying £35 to see your GP would stop people missing appointments, and how about £75 to A&E to stop people wasting it’s time.

    What ever the Tories do I’m sure we will find new labour has already thought of it.

  4. Barry Ewart says:

    I don’t think Labour would introduce charges although one Labour peer did float this idea.
    The Tories had brought an advisor into the cabinet office whose expertise is in charging so I think if the Tories scrape in it is more likely we would see £15 charges to see your GP?

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