The suggestion put forward by Sajid Javid in the Times that NHS patients should be charged for visiting GPs or hospital emergency departments is indicative of the Conservative party’s intention to “test the water for a different kind of NHS”, according to former Labour PM Gordon Brown. Brown argues that such a move would lead to people missing early diagnoses and would ultimately undermine the entire basis of the NHS.

Javid has expressed his belief that the NHS cannot “survive much longer” without radical change, including the introduction of fees, citing examples such as the £20 fee for seeing a GP in Norway or Sweden, and the €75 charge for people who arrive at a hospital A&E without a referral.

Brown suggests that Javid’s intervention was no accident, noting that the current PM Rishi Sunak had previously utilised private healthcare services and had proposed a charge for people who missed GP appointments when campaigning to become Prime Minister.

“And so once again, as they did in opposition at the turn of this century, with alternative prescriptions, Conservatives are testing the water for a different kind of NHS.

“Today’s Conservatives may have clapped [for] NHS nurses and health workers at the height of the pandemic; yet they are not only opposing decent remuneration for them but also contemplating a more privately financed healthcare system,” Brown writes in the Guardian.

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