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BMA head: NHS may be charged

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In a stark warning from the leader of Britain’s doctors, Dr Mark Porter, Head of the British Medical Association has warned that basic NHS services could be charged for, after the general election

The chief of British Medical Association warns that NHS will be forced to ration care if current 'penny-pinching' continues.

The British Medical Association represents 153,000 of the UK’s 250,000 doctors.

Dr. Porter says the state of finances of the NHS have become so dire it will be “inescapable” for the next government to consider fees, although he also said any such move would be “morally wrong.”

The three main political parties; the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats; have rejected they would ever charge for the NHS, but in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Porter said: “I think they will be tempted. They said in 1950 that a Labour government wouldn’t introduce charging and it did.”

It was a Labour government that created the National Health Service in 1946. Founder, then Health Secretary Aneurin "Nye" Bevan resigned from the government in April 1951 after the introduction of prescription charges to the service.

Over 60 years on, any talk of charges to NHS services are still met with adverse reaction. The public value the free health service as a pride of Britain, and recent cuts to the service by the coalition government have been highly unpopular.

But Dr. Porter says this “penny pinching” will ultimately force the free service to be charged. It is “penny-pinching” that is far from over. The NHS says there will be a £30 billion budget gap in the next five years unless it cuts another £22 billion and receives £8 billion a year from the government.

In recent years, several leading figures have suggested that the NHS may be forced to start charging.

In 2013, the chair of NHS England, Professor Sir Malcolm Grant said demand will rise by 5% per annum and unless the economy picks up, the government will have to think about introducing fees. Former health minister Lord Warner has also proposed a £10 a month NHS “membership charge” that caused an outcry by the public.

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