Lord Warner, Minister for Health Reform in Tony Blairâ€™s government, argues that NHS funding from general taxation should rise only with inflation to avoid starving the rest of the public sector of resources.Â Higher â€œsinâ€ taxes on alcohol, tobacco and sugary foods, means-testing of NHS â€œContinuing Careâ€, plus a Â£10 per month NHS membership charge and other patient contributions are needed for the NHS to survive the next five years of austerity.
The comprehensive plan argues that tackling the â€œcare crisisâ€ requires the NHS to turn into a â€œNational Health and Care Service (NHCS), based on a new partnership between State and citizen, with integrated health and social care available locally in the community and consolidation of hospital specialist services on fewer sites of higher qualityâ€. The report, published by the independent think tank Reform, proposes an NHS Membership scheme for all UK residents, including an annual health MOT to set new responsibilities each year for both the NHS and the individual.
The report claims that the â€œcare delivery model, largely unreformed since 1948, inflates NHS costs and limits many peopleâ€™s potential to live longer and healthier livesâ€.Â It recommends preserving virtually all current hospital sites but refitting many as primary care centres delivering more integrated care. Specialist services would be concentrated on fewer, more highly skilled, safer centres with 24/7 consultant cover.
The authors argue that, â€œeven with major changes to care, it is now irresponsible to pretend to the public that current forms of taxation alone will be sufficient to provide a good quality health and care systemâ€. Instead governments should introduce higher hypothecated â€œsinâ€ taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, sugary foods, betting and gambling.Â NHS â€œContinuing Careâ€ should be means-tested like social care.Â The numbers of people paying inheritance tax should rise, so that more cost is borne by the wealth of older people rather than by younger income tax payers.
Both Labour and Coalition governments have ignored the developing crisis, warns the 128-page report.Â Meanwhile, the NHSâ€™ protected budget takes ever more from shrinking public spending and impoverishes other vital public services. Yet, even this ring-fenced NHS remains unaffordable and excessively hospital-dominated, says the report, published as Simon Stevens takes over as NHS Englandâ€™s Chief Executive.
The reportâ€™s key recommendations are:
Radical partnership between State and citizen
New National Health and Care Service (NHCS)
Stricter financial discipline
New funding methods
– Tougher, hypothecated, inflation-proofed â€œsinâ€ taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling and new taxes on health-damaging, sugary foods.
– Wider payment of inheritance tax.
– Inflation-proofing prescription and dental charges.
– â€œHotel chargesâ€ for overnight stays in hospital.
– Full cost holiday vaccination charges.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45