We must stop people making wasteful demands on the NHS (Financial Times)

Jesse Norman MP wrote for the Financial Times about his CPS paper ‘How Much Do We Use the NHS?‘, Wednesday 29 October 2014. 

To read the full article, visit the Financial Times website.

Poverty does play a role, but a sizeable contingent of the repeat customers are drawn from the country’s most affluent areas.

Add up the annual costs of missed appointments and overused services, and the bill to the NHS is at least £1bn a year. This is not sustainable. To change it, we have to make people think twice before they make wasteful demands on the country’s health service.

In a paper published on Wednesday through the Centre for Policy Studies, Museji Ahmed Takolia and I propose a way of doing just that.

The idea is simple. Everyone who uses NHS services would receive a statement every year, showing which services they had received and how much they cost. Where cheaper treatment options were available that were just as good – say, visiting a family doctor rather than an emergency room – they would also be told how much this would have saved.

This initiative would not solve all the problems of the health service. Still, if it changed people’s behaviour and encouraged them to consider the costs of their actions, it could help alleviate the pressure on the NHS without compromising the general principle that you should not have to pay to receive medical treatment. It would encourage people to take greater responsibility for their own healthcare, without making them directly responsible for the financial costs.

There is one final point. The NHS has a budget of £125bn a year and employs 1.7m staff, yet it still has a surprisingly weak understanding of how and where that money is spent. Healthcare statements would force the NHS to become more rigorous about cost assessment, attribution and control. That, by itself, would be a huge benefit.

To read the full article, visit the Financial Times website.

Date Added: Wednesday 29th October 2014