Ex-Health Secretary Sajid Javid labels current NHS model ‘unsustainable’ as he backs calls for radical reforms that would see patients charged for GP appointments and A&E visits

  • Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid wants patients to pay for GP visits
  • He said there is a ‘religious fervour’ about the NHS which is a barrier to reform
  • Rishi Sunak considered fining those who miss appointments £10 before a u-turn 

Former health secretary Sajid Javid has proposed charging patients to see their GPs or attend Accident and Emergency departments as a way of reducing demand on the system. 

Mr Javid accused the public of having an appreciation of the NHS which approaches that of ‘a religious fervour’, which he describes as a ‘barrier to reform’. 

He said charging at the point of service would be ‘extending the contributory principle’, stressing that those on low incomes would be protected. 

Writing in The Times, Mr Javid described the current system was ‘unsustainable’ and the only method for rationing NHS services was to make people wait on a list. 

Former health secretary Sajid Javid has suggested people should pay to visit their GP or Accident and Emergency units to cut demand 

He said the only way to ration demand on NHS services at present was to place people on waiting lists 

He said the country needed a ‘grown up and hard-headed conversation’, while cross party support was needed to bring in new charges. 

The Prime Minister is not ‘currently’ considering the proposals, Downing Street told the newspaper. 

Mr Sunak mooted fining patients who missed GP or hospital appointments £10 during his unsuccessful run for the Tory Party leadership against Liz Truss. However, days after getting the keys to Number 10, he performed a u-turn.   

Mr Javid said that the NHS’s only rationing mechanism – to make people wait – should be replaced by means-tested fees, while ‘protecting those on low incomes’. ‘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.’ 

Mr Sunak, who is not standing for re-election, said Ireland had a €75 fee for anyone attending A&E without 

He pointed to Ireland’s ‘nominal’ €75 fee for going to an injury unit without a referral, and £20 fees for GP appointments in Norway and Sweden as possible models. 

‘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, who will not stand at the next election, argued that ‘the 75-year-old model of the NHS is unsustainable’. 

There are increased calls for an overhaul of the NHS, and not just from within the Tory party. 

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told The Guardian: ‘Reform is not a Conservative word. ‘In recent elections, the left has given a lot of people the impression the answer to everything is to pour more money in. Of course investment is needed in the NHS, but ask any patient about their miserable experiences and it’s partly about culture and systems. That’s got to change too.’ 

Following weeks of speculation over whether Mr Sunak pays to skip NHS queues to see a doctor, he recently said that, while he was registered with an NHS GP, he had paid for private healthcare in the past.

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