Combining health & social care opens door to paying for NHS says deputy chair London Region BMA Anna Athow

Local residents and campaigners from Southend joined Saturday’s 20,000-strong demonstration to defend the NHS
Local residents and campaigners from Southend joined Saturday’s 20,000-strong demonstration to defend the NHS

‘ONCE the funding of health and social care are combined, then the door is opened for means testing and charging for healthcare,’ Anna Athow, deputy chair London region BMA, said yesterday responding to calls to ‘change the way the NHS is funded’.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable yesterday, called for a new ‘ring-fenced’ tax, specifically to pay for the NHS combined together with social care.

The new levy, which could replace national insurance – forms the central recommendation of a report commissioned by the Lib Dems on ‘future health and social care funding in England’.

Cable said: ‘We do have to be honest with the public. If you want a first class NHS, and I think we do as a country, then we have got to pay for it, and we have to pay for it in a way that is related to people’s ability to pay.’

Athow responded: ‘Cable demands that Health and social care funding should be combined.

‘The NHS was set up with its own budget in 1948, to provide universal comprehensive health services, to all, free at the point of use.

‘Social care is provided by Local Authorities which can charge and means test people.

‘He demands that health and social care funding be pooled, which opens the door for patient charges as social care is means tested.

‘It also opens the door for a huge siphoning off of NHS money into privately run social care.

‘He also demands a reduction in hospital care provision.

‘Cable is being used to fund raise for the 44 STP (Sustainabilty Transformation Plans) boards set up by NHS England, whose job is to cut frontline NHS care and divert the bulk of the cash into Transformation i.e facilities being set up for private companies to come in and run them.

‘He is the latest choir master for the Five Year Forward View plan to get the NHS privatised by 2020.

‘Of course the NHS needs more funds, but not in order to invest in more private contracts.

‘These plans must be vigorously exposed and opposed by the Labour and trade union movement.’

Meanwhile the Tory government is doubling the amount it charges people to use the NHS who have come to Britain from other countries.

It is increasing the cost from £200 annually to £400, with JCWI (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) slamming the decision and demanding all fees are abolished.

Satbir Singh, Chief Executive of JCWI said: ‘This is an outrageous and cynical attempt by the government to shift the blame for its own failure to deal with the crisis in the NHS.

‘The Conservative health minister James O’Shaughnessy speaks about an NHS “paid for by British taxpayers”, ignoring the enormous net contribution of migrant taxpayers and of the migrant workforce that has helped keep the NHS running every day for seventy years.

‘Of course, it’s right that we all contribute but this is a shameful attempt to stir up division and hatred by implying that migrants don’t already do so.’