Justin Madders, shadow health secretary, says the two-tier system is ‘unforgivable’.

It is no surprise that more people are paying for NHS healthcare after the Conservatives allowed hospitals to raise nearly half their funds that way.

What else can they do when the same Conservatives have engineered impossibly high waiting lists for state-funded treatment?

The underfunding of the NHS, coupled with the provision of this ‘opt-out’ option, can only be an attempt to ‘nudge’ people into considering paying for healthcare – and to get them used to the idea.

In other words, it is an attempt to soften us up for total NHS privatisation.

I don’t blame anybody who takes the ‘pay’ route – no doubt they have very good, possibly life-saving, reasons for doing so.

But it would be wrong to use such people as indicators that the UK as a whole will accept the full privatisation of the NHS.

The option is only available to people who can afford it; the poor must still wait. Under fully-private care, the poor would not be able to afford it and would never receive it.

And who knows what sacrifices people are making in order to buy private healthcare from the NHS?

So healthcare would revert to being something only available to the rich and the rest of us would suffer.

But they would sell it to us as an affordable option because of those who are paying now – not because they want to, but because they have to.

That is Tory health policy, and it is evil.

Income received by NHS hospital trusts from private patients has risen by 23% in the last four years, as waiting lists for non-paying patients have soared.

Under the government’s reforms, hospitals have been given the right to raise 49% of their funds through non-NHS work, often from patients seeking to avoid waiting for surgery. Prior to this, there had been a 2% cap on income that could be raised from private patients.

Ministers revealed in parliament that in 2015-16, hospitals in England received £558m from patients choosing to pay private – up from £454m four years earlier. The figures come as the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has increased by 54% during the same period. Of those treated in October, more than 360,000 patients had been waiting for 18 weeks or more for treatment, according to the latest data from NHS England, compared to 234,030 in October 2011.

Source: NHS cashes in on private payers as waiting lists soar | Society | The Guardian

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