Why NHS charging is a zombie policy


Several political organisations (including, to Yr Obdt Srvt’s regret, Labour) have been talking up the possibility of imposing charges on the public for NHS services. Possibilities under discussion have included direct charging at the point of use or a new ‘NHS tax’. Nobody wants to mention that this means paying for the NHS twice (we already fund it with our taxes/NI contributions).

BBC Radio 4 recently ran a debate on NHS charging, on which one of the speakers was Dr Clive Peedell. This gentleman is a stalwart of the National Health Action Party, the political group founded to end the Coalition’s privatisation of healthcare by defeating the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats at election time.

He made many solid points – information that the public needed to hear. We know this because the presenter tried to shout him down while he was in full flow, and in the Tory-dominated BBC this is always a sure sign that a speaker is on the right track.

The YouTube clip (above) whittles down the debate to cover only Dr Peedell’s words, in which he states that:

  • It is a myth that charges can reduce demand for healthcare; this is a zombie policy.
  • If people start paying they expect more from the service, so you get people with wants, rather than needs.
  • The NHS has been chronically under-funded for decades – by £267 billion over 25 years.
  • It is become a fantastically efficient system and all the evidence suggests that progressive taxation is the fairest way to pay for healthcare.
  • Even so, there are efficiencies that can be made – the market system costs £10 billion per year in administration costs, and 10 per cent of the budget pays off venture capitalists who invested in costly PFI schemes.
  • Austerity increases demand on the healthcare system and reduces supply.
  • And healthcare spending stimulates economic growth so we should increase healthcare expenditure with money reclaimed from tax avoiders.

The clip is well worth playing.

After all, it isn’t often you hear anybody talking sensibly about the health service for nearly six minutes!

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  1. amnesiaclinic August 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Don’t seem to be able to reblog this Mike? It’s very good and he clearly says austerity damages public health.

    • WordPress.com Support August 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry to say that the reblog facility doesn’t seem to work any more as the site isn’t on WordPress.com any more.
      I know it’s more hassle but why not just open a new article, copy and paste the headline and the first paragraph or so, then write something like “please read the rest of this article at” and then the URL for it on voxpoliticalonline.com?
      I can’t reblog either, which means I have to do this for articles that I like.

  2. casalealex August 3, 2014 at 12:57 am - Reply

    WHEN WILL PEOPLE OPEN THEIR EYES? THE NHS (as we know it) IS GONE! I don’t think the public voted to lose the NHS. This government did not have a mandate from the people! Read NHS SOS if you want to know the truth about how we lost the NHS.

    Unfortunately, we have been conned, good and proper. They HAVE actually privatised the NHS before our eyes, and it should no longer be called the National Health Service, because it is trading under a false premise. There are many different companies involved in the running of it, and each is in it to make a profit, thereby ensuring that shareholders will gain whilst ‘customers’ lose.

    “At 2.10pm on the afternoon of Tuesday, 27th March 2012, immediately after prayers from the Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, The Health and Social Care Bill repealing the legal foundations of the NHS in England was given royal assent and became law.” – read NHS SOS

    We did not vote for the abolition of the NHS. Neither was it part of the Coalition agreement. And, unlike those citizens who reside in England, citizens of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to have an NHS – under the law. – read NHS SOS

    • Mike Sivier August 3, 2014 at 10:10 am - Reply

      I have indeed read NHS SOS and can thoroughly recommend it. If you’re lucky, Dear Reader, there might be an advert for it on this page…

  3. Thomas M August 3, 2014 at 2:01 am - Reply

    (Sorry if this comes out twice)

    Charging for the NHS will make taxpayers pay twice for the same thing, get more and more expensive over time, stop the very poor from using the NHS and goes against the principle of free healthcare at the point of need, amongst other things.

  4. jaypot2012 August 3, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Here in Scotland we are lucky with our NHS – and they do meet the waiting times in A+E, the waiting time for operations and for appointments to see consultants etc.Our GP’s are not under threat of losing huge amounts of money from their practices and we don’t have masses of private health care.
    However, that would change for sure if we lost the independence vote as the vultures from Westminster would be all over it and it would be sold to the highest bidder in record time!
    The coalition say that they would give more powers to Scotland should they not gain independence, the the coalition lied before they even got into government and have lied since. We know for sure that they’d be all over our NHS like a rash!

    • WordPress.com Support August 3, 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

      You’re misrepresenting the system there!
      Health is a devolved power, which means that – as long as there isn’t a Conservative administration in Holyrood – your version of the NHS is safe.
      It seems to me that there is more chance of a portal to Hell opening up under the Palace of Westminster, and it falling through, than there is of the Conservatives gaining a majority in the Scottish Parliament!
      So, please, don’t try to convince people that the health service in Scotland is under threat of privatisation.

  5. helland16 August 3, 2014 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Everyone concerned about protecting local hospitals should be aware of the strain of PFI contracts put on shrinking Trust budgets. This threat to safe and effective hospital services is real and immediate.

    The obvious way to protect the NHS is to call ‘time’ on PFIs.

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