Politics

Sajid Javid says patients should pay for GP and A&E visits - and that’s gone as well as you’d expect

Related video: Sajid Javid says current model of NHS 'not sustainable' for future

Sky News

Amid increasing pressures on an NHS in crisis, former health secretary Sajid Javid has called for the introduction of “co-payments” for patients attending GP appointments and making a trip to A&E – and of course, many people aren’t happy.

Writing for The Times on Friday, after nurses went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week, Mr Javid said the current model of the NHS is “unsustainable” and if it is not “radically reformed”, its founding principles “cannot survive much longer”.

The Bromsgrove MP said: “For the NHS, when faced with excess demand, the only rationing mechanism is to make people wait. This is not the norm in any other comparable country.

“Across Europe we see different versions of a contributory principle to complement public financing. This helps providers manage demand, and direct it to more efficient methods of supply.”

He cited examples such as Ireland (where access to free healthcare is dependent on household income, and a €75 charge is issued if you visit an injury unit without a GP referral), Norway and Sweden (where it’s around £20 to visit a GP), and Germany (where there’s a social health insurance model).

“For some people, just like my parents, that is a noticeable part of the weekly budget. But as demonstrated by so many other countries, it is possible to means-test this provision.

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“Even a tiny fraction of patients reconsidering their visit to the GP (and perhaps visiting a community pharmacist instead), would save thousands of clinical hours.

“We should look, on a cross-party basis, at extending the contributory principle,” Mr Javid said.

The Times piece also saw him take aim at what he considered to be “cynical scaremongering about fictitious conspiracies surrounding the future of the NHS”, which certainly sounds like a nod towards political opponents who view the Tories as being ideologically driven towards privatising the NHS by “stealth”.

Not too sure your desire for people to pay for GP visits is helping with that impression, Sajid!

As you can expect, Mr Javid’s suggestions have sparked widespread fury on social media, with his comments being branded “disgraceful”.

East Leeds Labour MP Richard Burgon wrote: “The Tories want to use this crisis to push through the privatisation of our NHS. We have the fight of our lives on to stop them.”

“This is what the Conservatives have in store for us all. We strongly oppose anything that might prevent or dissuade someone from seeking the care they need,” commented the campaign account NHS Million.

Palliative care doctor and author Rachel Clarke claimed this has “always” been the government’s agenda when it comes to the NHS, tweeting: “Outsource, privatise, make you pay (again). Anyone seriously believe Sunak doesn’t want the same?”

Others, meanwhile, pointed out the terrible optics of such a suggestion against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis.

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