The report, titled Free at the point of delivery: reality or political mirage?, is written by three practising NHS doctors, including the world-leading oncologist Karol Sikora, and published by Doctors for Reform, a non-party group of nearly 1,000 doctors all working in the NHS.
The report's key points
- UK healthcare is not free at the point of delivery.
- The 'top-up' payments occur because of varying limits of the NHS care package in different localities; the limits on NHS quality, including waiting times, delays and service access; the reduction in costs of some private treatments due to advances in technology and the development of a competitive marketplace.
- Without reform the use of 'top-up' payments is likely to increase.
- NHS provision of care is inequitable, but so is the current system of ad hoc 'top-up' payments.
- There must be a proper debate on the future of healthcare funding.
- Health professionals need to be at the heart of this debate.
Paul Charlson, GP, said: 'Patients now regularly mix and match their healthcare between the NHS and the private sector. Medical professionals see this every day. All parties must engage in a debate.'
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