The NHS should charge some critically ill patients for their NHS bed, suggests a report published today by Kate Barker for influential health policy lobbyists, the Kings Fund.
The report also recommends considering ending free prescriptions for most pensioners and for people with long term conditions.
“new recipients of what is currently defined as NHS Continuing Healthcare should meet their accommodation costs” says the report. NHS Continuing Healthcare is NHS care provided to people who are severely ill and either deteriorating or dying.And on prescriptions the Barker Commission suggests “medical exemptions and the low-income scheme would be abolished for all, including pensioners”.
The controversial proposals are included in much-anticipated set of recommendations to radically transform health and social care provision and funding. The report will be being promoted heavily around the party conferences over the next month by the Kings Fund,who commissioned it.
Whilst it’s hard to imagine these suggestions ending up explicitly in a party manifesto, their advocacy by a key 'think tank' will raise fears that they could be implemented post-election under the guise of ‘integration of health and social care’ which all three big parties are publicly supporting. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has already says Labour ‘welcome this bold and timely report'.
Barker backed away from other user charges (such as charges to see your GP) which have been advocated by other groups such as Reform. She calls instead for National Insurance increases (and scrapping most of the Winter Fuel Allowance) to provide social care for the most ‘critical’ needs, free of charge. Currently such care is means-tested. The report suggests that less severe needs could possibly be met from higher taxes in future, too.
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