Sunak backpedals on plan to make people pay for missed NHS appointments. Why?

Rishi Sunak: The decision came as he met patients and staff at Croydon University Hospital in his first visit as prime minister.

Did Rishi Sunak ever really mean to charge us £10 for missed NHS appointments?

Or was he just saying he would because he knew it would appeal to Conservative Party members?

It was a rotten idea:

I said at the time that what is actually needed is research to find out why these people are missing their appointments and help with the causes of their problems. I also said Sunak would never do that because it would cost money rather than raising it.

Doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) said it would “make matters worse” and threaten the NHS’s principle of free care at the point of need.

The BMA welcomed the decision to scrap the plan and said it “cannot be brought back to the table later down the line”.

This may be news to Sunak who, apparently, had decided it was merely “not the right time” for the idea after “listening to GPs”.

Sunak had also pledged to eliminate one-year waiting times by September 2024, and get the number of people waiting for non-urgent treatment in England falling by next year. He also pledged to reform dentists’ NHS contract, and ring fence the annual £3bn NHS dentistry budget.

Let’s hope he doesn’t use this as a precedent to backtrack on those – useful – ideas as well (although I think the dentistry budget needs a boost. Ours are paid a pittance, I’m told).

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