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NHS may charge patients to meet costs of an ageing population, experts warn

Published on 04/07/2012

Research predicts that patients without health insurance may have to start paying for their healthcare to reduce spiralling NHS costs within the next ten years.

The NHS may no longer be free at the point of use

A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that the NHS will need an extra £20bn a year by the end of 2020 to meet patient demand.

An ageing population, rising patient expectations and expensive new drugs on the horizon may mean that free treatment for everyone in the UK comes to an end.

The Nuffield Trust, which funded the study, said tax increases or further welfare cuts will still leave health spending falling behind what is need to support the population. Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust, said:

“If the Government can increase taxation or borrowing, cut the welfare bill further or generate greater efficiencies in other parts of the public sector then the NHS might be in line for a real-terms increase, albeit at a rate that does not keep pace with demographic pressures.”

“'However if any of those options are judged to be too difficult politically or too damaging to vulnerable groups and other key public services, health spending will have to fall in real terms.”

The IFS says the coming years will be the toughest since the early 1950s as we enter a decade of austerity.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “If the NHS does not change, it will not be fit for the future. We need swift action before the financial pressures overcome us.”

If the NHS does start charging for non-emergency procedures then the demand for private medical insurance may start to rise. Critics are already arguing that charging for NHS services is one step closer to completely privatising our healthcare system.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  NHS and Hospitals
NHS may charge patients to meet costs of an ageing population, experts warnResearch predicts that patients without health insurance may have to start paying for their healthcare to reduce spiralling NHS costs with    tweet it on twittershare with your friends on Facebookshare with your friends on MySpaceBlog it on your LinkedIn profile

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