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Labour lord calls for NHS patient 'membership charge'

A former Labour health minister has called for British citizens to pay a £10 per month “NHS membership charge”, as part of a suite of proposed reforms intended to prevent the health service “starving the rest of the public sector of resources”.

In a report published by think tank Reform, Lord Norman Warner argues NHS funding from general taxation should rise only in line with inflation to ensure health does not drain funds from other public services.

“All politicians allowed the NHS to overdose on higher budgets”

Lord Warner

The Labour lord, who was minister for health reform in Tony Blair’s government, claims there needs to be a £10 per month NHS membership charge and other patient contributions if the NHS is to survive the next five years of austerity.

In addition, he calls for higher “sin” taxes on alcohol, tobacco and sugary foods as well as means-testing of NHS “Continuing Care”.

The report says there should be a rise in the number of people paying inheritance tax so the wealth of older people, rather than younger income tax payers, bears more of the cost.

“Even 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 system,” it warns.

The NHS needs to be converted into a National Health and Care Service (NHCS) based on a new partnership between state and citizen, according to the authors, so it can combat the “care crisis”.

In such a model there would be integrated health and social care available locally in communities and there would be fewer, but higher quality, hospital specialist services.

As part of the NHS membership scheme, citizens would have an annual health MOT to set new responsibilities each year both for the NHS and the individual.

The report suggests the current care delivery model is outdated, unduly costs the NHS, and “limits many people’s potential to live longer and healthier lives”.

It recommends that almost all current hospital sites be maintained but with many of them remodelled as primary care centres providing more integrated care, with the fewer specialist centres offering round-the-clock consultant cover.

Ring-fenced funding for the NHS also comes in for criticism, with the suggestion that it is excessively hospital-dominated, unaffordable and a drain on other areas of the public purse.

“All politicians allowed the NHS to overdose on higher budgets without shifting more care closer to home and concentrating our specialist services on fewer, safer, more highly skilled, 24/7 centres,” said Lord Warner.

Co-author Jack O’Sullivan claimed the report did not amount to a call for another root-and-branch reorganisation of the NHS.

“This doesn’t require another big reorganisation or lots of hospital closures,” he said. “It focuses the NHS on what it can do with you rather than on what it can do to you.”

But Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “It would be the end of a health service free at the point of delivery for all those in need.

“Immediate savings could be made to the NHS by stripping out this obsession with turning the health service into a market place for private healthcare companies, when the £30bn funding crisis is looming.”

Readers' comments (17)

  • tinkerbell

    I personally don't mind paying an extra £10 per month to cover me but will there be any extra add ons like when you book with Ryanair that he's not mentioned? Sounds much like privatising it. Labour Lord. Wonder which way he voted in the nhs reforms and if he has any shares in private providers.

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  • Looks like think tank silly season has started. It's almost as if there's a general election next year or something.

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  • tinkerbell

    In 2009 he said he was "a paid adviser to the General Healthcare Group" as well as "the chairman of NHS London Development Agency".

    Treachery afoot!

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  • get stuffed if you work and pay NI that is enough yes it is a form of privatiziation just stop people coming into England and think everything is their's if you are born in England N H S is yours if not p*ss off

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  • whichever way we look at it, and whether we like it or not, there will be a massive shake up in the NHS and the way people work and the way healthcare is delivered.

    what are these special offers rumoured by Tinkerbell? Will there be seasonal discounts and no claims bonuses, with generous money back offers if you remain in good health and don't use the service? What other incentives will there be? If patients are to pay for hotel services in hospital, will these be improved to ensure they get their money's worth?

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 31-Mar-2014 5:52 pm

    There's already been a massive shake up!

    There'll be no special offers that we're not paying for, whatever a special offer might be if you have a life threatening condition, extra clubcard points? This manky old codger can f**k right off. Check him out! It only took me 5 mins on the internet.

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  • tinkerbell

    225 parliamentarians have recent or present financial private healthcare connections
    145 Lords have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    124 Peers benefit from the financial services sector
    1 in 4 Conservative Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    1 in 6 Labour Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    1 in 6 Crossbench Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    1 in 10 Liberal Democrat Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    75 MPs have recent or present financial links to companies or individuals involved in private healthcare
    81% of these are Conservative
    4 Key members of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group have parliamentarians with financial connections to companies or individuals involved in healthcare
    4 Patrons of the pro-reform think tank 2020health have Peers with private healthcare links
    Nearly 40% of the most powerful individuals in healthcare are from companies with links to Lords and MPs.
    4 MPs and 1 Lord have worked for Huntsworth Health, run by a Peer who gave money to Cameron’s leadership campaign
    25 of the Finalists in the HealthInvestors Awards 2012 have parliamentarians connected to them
    2 companies, DACBeachcroft, Cumberlege Connections, which have Lords as a partner and as an owner respectively, moved themselves into a position to make profit from private healthcare

    and it goes on and on as others are added to the list.

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  • tinkerbell

    Ryanair ad ons by the way are something YOU pay extra for, just to clarify.

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  • tinkerbell

    Lord Warner Health Minister from 2003 to 2007

    Lord Warner had specific responsibility for reform of the NHS – overseeing the introduction of more private sector involvement. Since he stepped down from that role he has taken on a directorship with UK HealthGateway and is chairman of the Government Sector Advisory Panel for Xansa plc – a leading provider of business outsource services to public bodies and holder of the £1bn NHS’s shared business service centre contract, providing accounting and finance services to the NHS. Lord Warner is also an advisor to Byotrol (a provider of micro biological health treatments), Apax Partners Worldwide (a private equity firm, with strong connections to the Government and which has invested heavily in health providers seeking contracts with the NHS), Deloitte (an accountancy and consultancy firm, with large incomes from government agencies) and DLA Piper (a legal firm, which, like Deloitte, specialises in advising on private contracting to the public sector). Lord Warner remains influential within the NHS as chair of the NHS London Provider Agency.

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  • Anonymous | 31-Mar-2014 5:19 pm

    maybe it is just that! a thought experiment?

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  • tinkerbell | 31-Mar-2014 6:26 pm

    you pay to use the loo as well. maybe this is where the hotel charges come in!


    Mr. Minister, the NHS is not a club so how do people pay a membership? Is joining voluntary? if it is low on your household budget priorities and you can't afford to pay, does this mean you go without care? there would need to be a fund to support those unable to pay which will cost you to manage!

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  • tinkerbell

    Andrew Haldenby, Conservative, director of Reform think tank was formerly head of the political section in the Conservative party's research department.

    How many greedy snouts in this trough?

    Keep digging.

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  • Human beings, and employees, can only take so much. Governments and employers must do far more to protect and value their staff, their most precious and largest resource and one of their most costly financial investments. Feeling undervalued, ignored, suppressed and their creativity stifled to the extent their health is damaged, is unacceptable. All have the impression that cost-cutting, money saving, cost efficiency and other financial considerations are taking priority over human values and quality of patient care.

    Too much pressure, too much change taking place too fast for people to grasp, not fully revealing what is taking place and leaving employees in uncertainty of their working patterns and their future needs to be properly investigated and stopped before there is more staff burnout, wastage, all of the anxieties which accompany unemployment, further reductions in staffing levels and further and disastrous deterioration of patient care as a result.

    Cf poor employment practices and its extreme results at Orange, France

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  • tinkerbell

    if there were a jigsaw puzzle that we could slowly assemble that would spell out what the governments feelings are towards us, given the evidence so far, it would slowly reveal the word 'CONTEMPT'.

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  • So will those on income-related (working age) benefits get it paid for them? (Oh no, of course, that would add to the working age benefits bill - & why would you want people off sick on Employment Support Allowance to get the care that might help them back into work).

    & those millions now suffering in-work poverty should presumably turn the heating off or cut back on food (if not already going to a foodbank) to pay their NHS membership.....oh, but then they might be more likely to get ill!!

    But then, as if we haven't learned since the recession hit, money speaks far louder than people or care. In the long term, the consequences would end up costing more.

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  • No, no and no.

    The NHS is safe in our hands. No top-down reorganisation. Then £3billion spent on that re-organisation. Sounds like someone was telling porkies to me.

    It really is about choices. Trident. HS2 (a snip at £50billion). Contracts going to private providers where your £10 membership fee goes into shareholders pockets.

    Roll on May 2015 and get these lying NHS haters out.

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  • Go back and re-examine the founding principles of the NHS!

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