‘Charge patients for less beneficial minor operations'

Patients in England should be charged for some minor surgery such as skin lesions, varicose veins and carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a report from Association of Directors of Public Health.

In return, prescription charges should end and PCTs should be made to take a consistent national approach on what can and cannot be provided on the NHS.

Dr Tim Crayford, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: ‘Medicine and treatment that people need for health reasons should be free. But things that people want, where there's little proof of clinical benefit, ought to have a price tag.

‘Eighty nine per cent of prescriptions are free as it is, and there's no logic on health grounds to charge people for the remaining 11 per cent, except for everyday medicines like aspirin and paracetamol. It seems unfair to charge for highly effective drugs and prevent heart attacks, while not charging for some treatments that offer much smaller benefits to people.'

The BMA is drawing up proposals on treatment rationing, which it expects to debate at its annual meeting in June.

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