NHS funding to come from insurance and user charges, says unelected health minister

Keep the NHS public: These demonstrators don't want the NHS to be funded by private means. They want a publicly-run service, catering for everyone, regardless of their means to pay.

Keep the NHS public: These demonstrators don’t want the NHS to be funded by private means. They want a publicly-run service, catering for everyone, regardless of their means to pay.

A junior health minister in the House of Lords has called for an independent inquiry into ways of changing the way the National Health Service is funded, away from taxation and towards insurance and user charges.

It’s the Conservative Party’s dream come true – but you probably missed it because it was announced very quietly last Thursday (July 9) in a House of Lords debate on the “sustainability” of the NHS, by the unelected Tory Government’s Under-Secretary of State for NHS Productivity, Lord David Prior. One suspects he may have overstepped his job description.

The gist of the debate is presented in this Open Democracy post. Basically, Tory Lords called for “a plurality of funding” to make the NHS sustainable. Rather than taxing the rich (who can afford to pay), they want to tax the sick (who can’t).

Astonishingly, Labour peers didn’t have a lot to say against the idea. Pro-privatisation Lord Warner (why is he Labour, if he’s pro-privatisation?) said: “A wise Government should begin now the process of helping the public engage in a discourse about future funding of the NHS.”

Prior, summing up, said that, although he preferred a tax-funded NHS, “if demand for healthcare outstrips growth in the economy for a prolonged period, of course that premise has to be questioned.”

He called for an independent inquiry on healthcare funding – perhaps to be carried out by the King’s Fund or Nuffield Trust – ignoring the fact that the King’s Fund’s Barker Review has rejected user charges and called for more taxes to pay for healthcare, through a review of inheritance tax and national insurance increases – which George Osborne has recently cut.

This plan, coupled with the recently-announced possibility of social security becoming based on private insurance, would pronounce the death sentence on the Welfare State.

The Open Democracy article asks: “Are we being nudged towards an inefficient, unfair ‘pay NHS’ in the only way possible – undemocratically?”

It seems so.

Let’s nip this one in the bud.

Back in 2011, David Cameron told the world: “We will not be moving towards an insurance scheme, we will not introduce an American-style private system. In this country, we have this most wonderful, precious institution and idea. That whenever you’re ill, however rich you are, you can walk into a hospital or surgery and get treated for free. No questions asked. No cash asked. I will never put that at risk.”

It seems that now would be an excellent time to contact your MP (via the Write To Them website if you like), reminding them of Cameron’s words.

Then – as a Vox Political reader suggested in a comment to the Facebook page, point out that an unelected junior health minister, Lord Prior, has suggested to Parliament that he plans to launch an inquiry to consider whether we should move away from a tax-funded NHS, towards one funded by insurance and co-payments.

Finally ask if it is now official government policy to consider such a move to an insurance or user-fee funded NHS, away from the core principles that have been in place since the 1940s.

Don’t forget to ask all your friends to do the same.

This government only listens if enough people raise their voices.

Let’s give David Cameron and his ministers a reason to prick up their ears.

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  1. Mo Stewart July 15, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    This is the start of the American system coming into the UK and insurance funded welfare funding will follow.
    This has been planned for decades and is unrelated to the latest Tory diatribe regarding funding or economic growth or Cameron’s previous comments supporting the NHS.
    It will take time to persuade the British public as they drip feed the suggestion via the press over the next few months and possibly years.

  2. paulmac49 July 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    This is yet another scandalous Tory ploy through the back door.

  3. Neil July 15, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    OUR NHS is already funded by ‘Insurance’ and ‘User Charges’ – ‘National Insurance’ is a ‘User Charge’ (whether or not they use it), into which we all pay. There is absolutely NO reason why it should not continue to be so.

    OUR NHS is a ‘Jewel In Our Crown’ and must be protected from political, corporate interference and greed!

    We do not want be like the USA where Healthcare is extremely expensive and where the less well-off, less fortunate, and infirm are ignored and neglected! Which is pretty much what the Tories, Corporations and Private Health/Insurance Companies are trying to force down our throats, which is a very bitter pill to swallow. This sort of doctoring will have adverse effects on us all…! ! !

    • Mike Sivier July 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      I do, of course, agree.

  4. Nick Fourbanks July 15, 2015 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    As i have always told you mike David Cameron is a dishonest person and whatever he says good or bad means nothing

    In a nutshell that’s it which makes him a very dangerous person as if you cant believe your government leader you can be sure that your going to be a hiding to nothing

  5. Andy C July 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    yes, and Maximus who is sniffing round the edges of this is also suporting potential future Labour deputy leaders –

    From the Vice website (information sources are linked to in the article)- Caroline Flint who is looking at becoming Labour deputy is backed by Soveriegn.

    “According to Flint’s entry on the Register of MP’s Interests, Sovereign are helping run her campaign by donating a “seconded member of staff to work on deputy leadership campaign, value £8,000″. ”

    “Sovereign are also linked to the business of austerity. One of their bigger clients is called Maximus. Maximus is a US corporation that runs government welfare schemes. Their biggest UK contract is running “Work Capability Assessments” on disabled people applying for benefits. Maximus will get £595 million over three years testing disabled people. Anyone judged “fit for work” by Maximus staff will not get benefits.”


  6. Thomas July 15, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    If this government gets it’s way we won’t have an NHS, and most sick people won’t be able to afford medical care.

  7. ian725 July 16, 2015 at 1:11 am - Reply

    With reference to the above article ‘ QUOTE’.. “That whenever you’re ill, however RICH you are, you can walk into a hospital or surgery and get treated for free.” end Quote from Cameron Should he not have applied the word POOR instead of RICH. Could it be just the way his mind operates and he simply cannot relate to those in dire need!

  8. NMac July 16, 2015 at 6:07 am - Reply

    The nasty party are going to get nastier and nastier. They couldn’t care less about the disabled or the less well off and, in fact, they sneer at them and denigrate them. The nasty party has been waiting for almost 70 years to get rid of the NHS – it has always been at the top of their priority list, but they dare not do it openly and honestly, so they dress it up and hope people won’t notice. Their chums in the reactionary press will help them.

  9. Jane Jacques July 17, 2015 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Noted the Panorama programme on BBC regarding the unsustainability of the NHS. I understand it faces new challenges but wonder if this is all part of the propaganda on the lead up to charges in the NHS.

    Also noted the Government have increased the cap on care charges tonight for the old folks, not what they said in their manifesto according to the TV news.

    Yes there are pressures on the NHS, yes it will always need to improve, all health systems do eg new technologies, guidelines etc. But what is coming from the Government is beyond that.

    More money anyone? Oh sorry that’s just too leftie and careless with the economy. Gideon spent it on his inheritance tax give away.

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