An attempt by Tory MPs to push through an amendment to the National Health Service Act 2006 that will allow NHS patients in England to be charged for their treatment and GP visits.
The National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill, sponsored by Tory MPs Christopher Chope, Peter Bone and Edward Leigh – Leigh has been pushing for years for charging to be introduced – will allow wording to be added to the NHS Act that will open the way to ‘co-payment’ for NHS services.
In other words, for you – if you live in England – to be charged for treatment.
The wording is unspecific about amounts to be charged or any payment limits – obviously hugely dangerous:
Co-payment has been a favoured theme of Tories and those pushing for that old staple, ‘tough decisions about how we pay for our healthcare’. As long ago as 2008, when crypto-Tories in New Labour raised the possibility, well-known medics and NHS campaigners Kailash Chand and Clive Peedell called co-payments a ‘nail in the coffin of universal healthcare’.
They also described the huge dangers to patients:
Such a system would perpetuate inequalities by devolving financial risk to individuals, leaving them to meet the often catastrophic risks of care themselves.
Health problems are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US, accounting for around sixty-two percent of personal insolvencies.
For obvious reasons, it is essential that this bill – which would end the NHS as a service free at the point of need based on need and not on ability to pay – is defeated.
The bill is due for discussion this afternoon, but if Labour can ensure that discussions on the preceding bills, which are about bereavement leave and young people’s voting rights, extend beyond 2.30pm, then Commons rules say that the co-payment bill can only pass if unopposed:
The bereavement bill is still being debated and looks set to move to a third reading.
Happily, the chances of this bill passing today are slim. But based on its Tory sponsors’ track record it will be re-attempted again and again – and the mere fact of its existence speaks volumes about the Tories’ real intent toward our NHS.
End it – and make us pay when we or our loved ones are sick.
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