NHS charging proposals slammed

A REPORT suggesting patients should be charged £10 a month to use the NHS has been slammed by health bosses in Worcestershire.

A report co-authored by former Labour health minister Lord Warner was released, calling for a radical overhaul to how the NHS is funded.

Among the recommendations were that each resident would pay a monthly 'membership' fee of £10 alongside council tax.

But the proposals have come under fire.

Chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire Peter Pinfield urged health leaders to carefully examine all elements of the proposal before making a decision.

"The £10 quick fix idea is just not practical and, if in fact the problem of resources is that serious, any change to the NHS constitution should be put to the nation for our views and possible solutions in a proper factual debate," he said.

"Introducing a charge for appointments would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of general practice - that healthcare is free at the point of need.

"Fees would prove counterproductive and ultimately more expensive, marginalise the less well off and vulnerable in our community.

"We all know it would not stop at £10."

The report was published by think-tank Reform, which said patients should also be made to pay hotel-style charges for inpatient care and that the plans would net the NHS more than £6 billion a year.

The Department of Health has also criticised the plans, with a spokesman saying "This government doesn't support the introduction of membership fees or anything like them".

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