How to save 8% of the NHS budget, make people pay for their GP care
I am convinced that private healthcare operating in a free market is always the best option for the taxpayer in the UK. Yet once you have a state run health service, its incredibly difficult to get rid of and you can even be told that you are unpatriotic for suggesting a way of improvement that doesn’t involve throwing more money at it. However, reducing government spending and burden on taxpayers is one of the themes of this blog and I’ve found somewhere where the NHS can save money for UK taxpayers: The GP service.
A report on the ‘evolving role and nature of general practice in England’ explains that GP services account for 8% of the total NHS budget. It also says that GP services for a whole year cost less than a single day’s hospital admission!
General practice accounts for 90 per cent of patient consultations and just below 8 per cent of the total NHS budget. Funding for GP services has risen in recent years in line with a strategy to increase the investment in general practice. Prescribing accounts for a significant proportion of general practice expenditure.
Around a quarter of the total expenditure on primary care relates to prescription drugs, and 98 per cent of these drugs are prescribed by GPs (National Audit Office 2007). Compared to other parts of the healthcare system, GP services are estimated to be less costly. GP care for a whole year costs less than a single day’s hospital admission. GP consultations cost less than outpatient consultations, accident and emergency and
ambulance calls. A face-to-face consultation with a GP costs the NHS about the same as a telephone consultation with a nurse through NHS Direct (Royal College of General Practitioners 2008b).
Surely we can save approximately 8% of the NHS budget if we just asked people to pay for their GP consultations and prescribed medicine. Personally, I understand the moral case for free healthcare, particularly in life threatening, emergency situations. But when people need to visit their local doctor to pick up a sick note for work, or to obtain some antibiotics for an infection etc. why should we not pay for that ourselves?
On a separate note, one of my all time pet hates is when people say that the NHS provides FREE healthcare. I wonder if they would see the light if they knew that more than £95.6bn (NHS England) of their money is spent on it every year.