That’s right! Soon we could see a very different NHS. One that charges you at point of contact.
According to the Telegraph, the British Medical Association (BMA) will be meeting today, to potentially vote for charges to be made against patients for using GP services. This comes after a poll earlier on in the year, that showed a majority of doctors approved that charges should be implemented for some services.
While something could be said about potentially fining individuals for missed doctors appointments, which clearly is a waste of time for GP services across the country, charging people outright for using those services is worrisome. The argument for the changes is that by putting on a charge, this would provide a deterrent for those who’s health problems could be solved with changes in their lifestyle, or with some rest and over the counter medication. Sounds reasonable right?
There is no denying that many of the health issues we face as a country are in part due to the way we live. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases etc. We live in a world where the biggest killers and long term conditions are due, mostly in part, to our lifestyles. Though I would agree that some kind of intervention has to happen, this is completely the wrong way to go about it.
What bothers me about this, and many of the changes to our NHS over the years, is the ever increasing narrative that the patient is entirely responsible for their health. Don’t get me wrong. We all could do more to look after our health and wellbeing. But this perspective completely ignores all of the factors out of the individual’s control, especially for those who are not as wealthy or educated.
Constant marketing by fast food and drinks companies. Rising living costs that make it harder to eat fresh, healthy foods. A lack of affordable access to information and health professionals, like nutritionists, health and fitness coaches, and now apparently our local doctors. The long term conditions and disabilities that are at no fault of the individual. Health inequity is a real issue, and by simply putting a blanket charge on using GP services, this only disadvantages those already underprivileged.
The question has to be asked: If people are in control of their health, and should be doing more to make positive health behaviour, why aren’t they? There are a variety of valid answers, with the field of health psychology having a number of theories. But put simply, it is hard to change, and people need help. That is why people go to the doctors in the first place. For the guidance and support that they need to live healthier.
Somewhere there is a solution to this problem. I am no economic expert, and so I cannot comment on the funding issues. That being said, in an ideal world, individuals who are struggling with noncommunicable diseases could seek out support from alternative sources. That yes, we should relieve the pressure on local GP services, but by funding other health and wellbeing services that people can go to instead.
See the full News Article at the link below…