Former health secretary Sajid Javid has been criticized after saying patients should be charged for GP appointments and A&E visits. Writing in the Times he said the current NHS model was “unsustainable”. He has said this “contributory principle” should form part of a multi-flanked initiative to tackle waiting times in the health service.
In his opinion piece, Mr Javid sent out a call for “grown-up, hard-headed conversation” about radically changing the health service, adding that the nation’s love of the NHS “has become a religious fervour and barrier to reform”.
Mr Javid’s comments echo those of others who say that some are fearful of saying the NHS needs to change because of the country’s wider love for it and the sacrifices health service personnel made during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to Mr Javid’s article, Downing Street said it was not considering the proposal which has received immense backlash on social media.
Two of the fundamental reasons behind this backlash are that it goes against one of the NHS’s fundamental principles, that it is meant to be free at the point of entry, and would hit the pockets of the poorest in the country at a time of high inflation .
Despite the controversial nature of his comment, surely set to divide, Mr Javid has called for cooperation from both sides of the British political divide to help fix the NHS.
He said: “We should look, on a cross-party basis, at extending the contributory principle,” he wrote.
“This conversation will not be easy, but it can help the NHS ration its finite supply more effectively.
“Too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform,” the Bromsgrove MP also said.
“We need to shake off the constraints of political discourse and start having a grown-up, hard-headed conversation about alternatives.”
Mr Javid’s comments come at a time when the NHS is facing its biggest crisis in its nearly 80-year history.
A&E waiting times are at record levels as health personnel go on strike over pay and conditions.
As a result, there is wide agreement that a concerted effort is needed to fix the NHS and resolve the strike action.
However, there are divisions over how to best achieve this.
Mr Javid’s proposal is one of multiple suggestions as to how to break the UK’s most cherished institution.