Conservative Diary

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Tories will NOT introduce co-payments for NHS

Last week I wrote this:

"Co-payments were a big idea of David Cameron's Tory leadership bid but little has been heard about them since.  Then he talked about students helping to pay for their university education and motorists helping to pay for roads.  Will charges for certain medical services be one way of a Tory government maintaining NHS spending without plundering other departmental budgets?  I'm only speculating."

For the record I've now been told by an impeccable Tory source that co-payments have been ruled out for the NHS and that it will remain free at the point of use.

Andrew-Haldenby That makes it all the more important that the party narrows its commitment on NHS spending.  Earlier I suggested that it move to a position of protecting frontline services only.  Andrew Haldenby of the Reform think tank left a comment saying I was being too cautious.  His view is worth highlighting:

"Tim, please forgive me if I disagree with you. (Although I agree completely about the unsoundness of the Conservative spending pledge). The problem is that the mis-use of the NHS budget lies in the front line. The NHS will become much more efficient only when its doctors and nurses are employed in different ways and its buildings are used in different ways. The “front line” of any more efficient system is going to look very different. A pledge to protect the “front line” will just compound the problem. A fuller case is set out in a previous Telegraph column here and our Budget paper here. This is the task of political leadership – to explain that the NHS has to change. Your idea would fail that test."

Tim Montgomerie


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