Pensioner forced to return to NHS work after insurance crisis
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Senior figures from No 10, the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are meeting to agree the size of the budget boost the NHS in England will receive in the next few years.
Despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promise the NHS would get “whatever it needs”, the NHS settlement is expected to be closer to £5billion.
One NHS source told the Guardian: “From what we can see the Government is preparing to announce that it’s going to increase the NHS’s budget by about £5billion next year.
“If they do, that’s £5billion less than we’ve told them the service needs and thus they’ll be leaving the service £5billion short.”
This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to announce his delayed plan to fix the long-term funding of the social care system.
However, former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has risked sparking backlash after revealing he is in favour of a “new health and care premium”
In his latest column in The Telegraph, he wrote: “Given that health spending is going to dwarf all other spending in the years ahead, such a premium would allow an honest debate at every election about the level of funding we want.
“It would be separate to a discussion about how much is spent in other departments and would also mean a fairer comparison about the tax burden with countries operating insurance-based systems.”
His comments come after NHS Providers estimated the coronavirus pandemic will add nearly £5billion to recurrent NHS costs.
A further £4billion a year is also needed for the current Parliament to tackle the backlog.
Mr Hunt continued: “Then there is the much-needed reform of the social care system, for which the cap on care costs alone is likely to be more than £3billion a year.
“These sums are too large for any chancellor to find behind the back of the Treasury sofa.”
The former Health Secretary said the Conservatives can “only solve the problem through the tax system”.
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Helen Miller, deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, questioned the choice of NI contributions.
She said they are no levied on working people above state pension age, or on pension income.
Ms Miller said: “That is a pretty big choice, and you’re doing it at a time when you want to increase services for people above state pension age, of which there’s a growing group,
“The context here is that we already give pretty big tax breaks to people above the state pension age.”
This is not the first time Mr Hunt has called for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system.
The 2005 policy book, called Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party, was a collection of writings authored by a group of Tory MPs.
The book contained a blueprint for replacing the NHS with an insurance market system – and called for the private sector to be brought in.
Mr Hunt was listed as one of the authors, though he denied writing the chapter on the NHS and said it did not reflect his views.
The book – whose chapters were not marked with individual authors – read: “We should fund patients, either through the tax system or by way of universal insurance, to purchase health care from the provider of their choice.”
Later in the book, it added: “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain.”
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