Charge £10 for GP visits, think-tank says

The government should introduce a £10 charge for patients for each GP visit as a means of tackling the deficit, according to a think tank.

The report by Reform says user charging would allow the NHS to raise £1.6bn per year and would reduce the burden on services by helping to reduce demand.

The report, 'Budget 2010: taking the tough choices', said the preferred provider policy should be reversed as a means of driving up productivity of health services.

'The government must commit to greater pluralism of supply,' it said. 'Allowing choice of PCT, or purchaser, will mean that health funding follows the citizen, putting pressure on PCTs to reconfigure services and accelerate the shifting of care outside hospitals.'

The report also called for the government to set targets to increase private health spending. ‘If private spending in the UK was to increase to the level of Italy (from 1.5% to 2.0%), while holding everything else constant, the funding base for health in the UK would be higher by £7bn in 2010/11,' it said.

The government should also remove its pledge to ‘protect frontline services', the report recommended. It said the public sector workforce should fall by around 15%, equivalent to one million jobs.

'There should be a move away from national pay bargaining and pay and conditions should reflect public finances and performance,' it added.

Editor's blog: £10 for a GP appointment? I'll take my chances in A&E

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