Medicopolitical Digest

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BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 13 April 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:980
  1. Linda Beecham

    BMA opens discussion on NHS financing

    The BMA's health policy and economic research unit has published a new discussion document which looks at future demand for health care and the availability and use of resources. Financing the NHS does not necessarily represent BMA policy but is designed to provoke a debate.

    The report says that the NHS would benefit from more funding and it remains the BMA's policy that the service is underfunded. But as there is no “right” level of funding for the NHS it is difficult to quantify the amount of additional funding; how much to spend is a political decision.

    One option is to find extra funding from sources other than general taxation but the introduction of patient charges would affect the comprehensiveness of the NHS and some patients might opt to meet charges through private insurance. If patients increasingly chose to opt out of the system altogether public support for the NHS might decline.

    The unit says that it is not the case that the demand for health care will necessarily outstrip available resources. Work is needed on methods of forecasting future demand and need for health care and how that might be met before a conclusion could be reached that the NHS could not meet the demands made on it. Savings could be made through greater efficiency and more effective use of resources in several areas. For example, the financial burden of prescription charges could be shared more equally and the system of charging reviewed. Revenue lost by changing the system of patient charges for …

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