Azara Blog: Some think-tank wants more charges for health care

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Date published: 2009/07/25

The BBC says:

Patients should be charged £20 to see a GP in a bid to limit demands placed on the health service, a centre-right think-tank says.

The Social Market Foundation said forcing people to pay a fee for an appointment could help the NHS cope in the tight financial times ahead.

The group said it would not breach the values of the NHS as charges already applied to dentistry and prescriptions

But both the government and doctors said they were against such a move.
The Social Market Foundation said the only way for the NHS to cope was to raise taxes to put more money into the system, limit demand or work more effectively.

The NHS is already looking to make savings and the think-tank said there was little appetite for tax rises.

Instead, they said charging for GPs would be a good way to reduce demand.

Report author David Furness said: "It would get people thinking twice about whether the visit was essential.
He said the move was not about making money and insisted even a small charge like this could help reduce appointments by about 5%.

He said children and those receiving tax credits should not be charged and said the think-tank was opposed to fees being levied on any form of emergency care.

The Social Market Foundation is one of the zillions of "think tanks" plaguing the nation. 20 pounds might seem like a trifling amount to the rich academic middle class people in the Social Market Foundation, but it's a huge amount for a large chunk of the nation, and not just for people receiving tax credits. And if they are going to advocate charges in this regard, then why are they "opposed to fees being levied on any form of emergency care"? It's just a nonsense, and of course would also mean that people would be far more tempted to just head to the emergency room rather than their GP to receive medical advice. But Economics 101 was never a strong suit of the "think tanks".

And the fact that the government is opposed to this is rather irrelevant. The question is whether the Tories, who will form the next government, are for or against this. It is bizarre that the BBC failed to ask this question.

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