NHS patients should be presented with an annual statement of what they have cost the taxpayer in a bid to stop people wasting the time of GPs and accident and emergency units, a Conservative MP said.
Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, has co-authored a think-tank report, which concluded that the cash-strapped health service could save hundreds of millions of pounds if individuals were helped to “appreciate the value” of the universal provision.
Techniques which had helped energy firms encourage reduced household consumption – such as showing the average and lowest bills in a neighbourhood – could be successfully copied in the NHS, the Centre for Policy Studies concluded in its report, titled How Much Do We Use the NHS.
Research had found there were around 51 million “unnecessary” GP visits a year – about conditions that would quickly clear on their own for example – and that put the cost of unwarranted trips to surgeries and A&E at £300m a year, said the right-wing think-tank. Adding outpatient appointments would take it to £1bn.
NHS chiefs have warned that the service needs another £8bn funding a year even if it succeeds in shaving another £22bn from annual costs over five years.
Employing “nudge” techniques increasingly being experimented with by the government, the statements would set out the number and cost of visits made in a year – and the potential savings if a more suitable course of action had been taken.
Attention would be required, the report conceded, to ensure no-one genuinely in need of attention was made to feel they were a “burden”.