PMQs: Sunak and Starmer clash over NHS waiting times
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The majority of Brits do not back Sajid Javid’s call for patients to be charged for GP appointments, new polling suggests. An exclusive poll by Techne for the Express found 56 percent of respondents said people should not have to pay a fee to see their doctor.
In the poll of 1,624 British adults, carried out from February 1 to 2, some 34 percent said patients should not be charged. Some 10 percent did not know.
The former health secretary’s suggestion was slightly more popular with Tories than Labour voters.
Some 38 percent of Conservative voters backed the proposal, but 54 percent still said no.
In comparison, 31 percent of Labour supporters said yes and 58 percent disagreed.
Meanwhile, Brexiteers and Remainers were united on the issue with 34 percent saying yes and 57 percent saying no.
It comes after Mr Javid said patients should be charged for GP appointments as well as accident and emergency visits as he branded the present NHS model “unsustainable”.
The former health secretary said “extending the contributory principle” should be part of radical reforms to tackle growing waiting times.
He called for a “grown-up, hard-headed conversation” about revamping the health service, adding that “too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform”.
Mr Javid said that the NHS’s only rationing mechanism – to make people wait – should be replaced by means-tested fees, while “protecting those on low incomes”.
Writing for The Times, he said: “We should look, on a cross-party basis, at extending the contributory principle.
“This conversation will not be easy, but it can help the NHS ration its finite supply more effectively.”
He pointed to Ireland’s “nominal” 75 euro fees for going to an injury unit without a referral, and £20 fees for GP appointments in Norway and Sweden as possible models.
The Bromsgrove MP said: “Too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform.
“We need to shake off the constraints of political discourse and start having a grown-up, hard-headed conversation about alternatives.”
Mr Javid, who will not stand at the next election, argued that “the 75-year-old model of the NHS is unsustainable”.
His comments come amid increased calls for an overhaul of the NHS – from Labour as well as the Tories.
But Downing Street said the Prime Minister is not “currently” considering Mr Javid’s proposals.
During the Tory leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak set out plans to fine patients who miss GP and hospital appointments £10.
But he backtracked on the pledge after it was widely criticised by health leaders, signalling the controversy surrounding any reforms that could threaten the principle of free NHS care at the point of need.
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