From: David Hickson - campaigner for the NHS
GENERAL ELECTION ISSUE - Will the NHS remain "free at the point of need"?
(See my more complete comments on my blog - http://nhspatient.blogspot.com/2010/04/general-election-issue-will-nhs-remain.html)
The 2005-2010 government started to implement a ban on use of expensive (084) telephone numbers by NHS providers, but failed to complete the task.
Patients continue to subsidise the costs of providing NHS services, as they access them, through the "revenue sharing" arrangement that is always in place whenever 084 telephone numbers are used by NHS GPs and Hospitals.
I propose a question to those seeking to take on the management of our NHS as members of the next parliament, and the government that emerges from it.
"How far will payments by patients be used to enable NHS budgets to be maintained whilst public spending is being cut?"
Any answer that falls short of an absolute denial, and an assurance that prompt and firm action will eliminate the existing examples of this practice, must be taken as a commitment that sacrificing the principles of the NHS is a price worth paying for whatever else is to be done with public money.
What is happening now is improper and illegal – will it now be stopped or will it get worse?