Sajid Javid says some patients should be charged for GP and emergency visits

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid speaks as he launches the bid for the next Conservative Party leader on July 11, 2022 in London, England. The former health secretary resigned from office last week, prompting the collapse of support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is one of eleven ministers and MPs vying for the top post. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The former Health Secretary said ‘religious fervor’ around the NHS hurt him (Picture: Getty)

The NHS should start charging patients who can afford for frontline services, said Sajid Javid.

The former health minister is calling for radical reforms that he says are “crucial” to the survival of the healthcare system.

Among them should be the “extension of the contribution principle” to means-tested payments for prescriptions and routine dental care, he wrote in an opinion piece in The Times.

Mr Javid did not specify which services should introduce fees, but suggested wealthier patients could be billed for doctor appointments and unnecessary emergency room visits – while “those on low incomes are protected”.

He pointed to other European countries where similar measures are commonplace, such as Norway and Sweden, where a GP visit costs around £20.

Citing Ireland’s policy of charging better-off people €75 if they “visit an emergency room without a GP referral,” he said: “The benefit of this system is that people are actively assessing their demand for frontline services Front is required.’

The UK is the only country of its kind where healthcare is only able to ration services by “making people wait,” he argued.

Mr Javid called for a “mature, tough-talking conversation” involving all parties, attacking politicians for avoiding reform to praise the NHS “because that’s what people want to hear”.

A general view of the medical equipment on an NHS infirmary at Ealing Hospital in London. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Strikes. Photo credit should read: Jeff Moore/PA Wire

Mr Javid suggested charging some patients for unnecessary A&E visits (Image: PA)

He added that “too often an appreciation for the NHS has become a religious passion and an obstacle to reform”, arguing that Westminster is frozen in the belief that politicians “need to fix it without touching it”.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting hit back at Mr Javid’s comments by saying: “Over my dead body”.

He added: “A free NHS at the point of use has been its central principle of justice for 75 years. Patients should never have to worry about the bill.

“It is up to Labour, who founded the NHS, to weather the biggest crisis in their history and prepare for the future.”

Downing Street said Rishi Sunak was not considering the proposals “at this time”.

The Prime Minister vowed to introduce £10 fines for missed appointments as part of his campaign for Tory leadership, before quietly dropping the promise after a backlash.

Mr Javid, who is no longer in government but remains MP for Bromsgrove, has said he will not stand as a candidate in the next general election.

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Justin Scacco

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