Head To Head

Could private top-up insurance help fund the NHS?

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5424 (Published 12 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5424

Re: Could private top-up insurance help fund the NHS?

Dear Author,

This is a topic of much heated discussion and debate in all spheres of education in the country. As a medical student studying in England I believe that our voices should be heard in such a discussion. We are the future of the health care in the country and will have to live by these decision made. When engaging with medical students here it is clear to see that one of the main driving forces behind this career choice is to work in the world-renowned NHS which has been free at the point of service since its inception. I believe this this unique feature we have in this country shouldn't be eroded away because other countries struggle to implement such a system. We must do our upmost as healthcare professionals to make the politicians and decision aware of our feelings towards privatisation of our NHS. I would also add that the NHS attracts students from all walks of life due to its simplistic message that essentially says if you are unwell, we will help you - and there is something uniquely beautiful about this.

Regarding the lack of funding for the NHS, its of no real surprise that our healthcare is actually one of the worst funded in Europe. The United Kingdom spends a smaller proportion of its GDP on health care than countries such as Portugal, France, the Netherlands and even Greece [1]. Furthermore the issues that arise through privatisation are many, it is not a miracle pill that will make our healthcare system automatically better. One concern I have is a shift in attitude that would disseminate throughout all the staff working in healthcare making them driven by money and no longer good-will. This would have a direct impact on patients but also the medical students who are looked after by doctors who currently aren't paid more to do so.

Lastly, where would one draw the line in privatisation of our healthcare service? I believe that this avenue is a slippery slope that should be avoided.


1. http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/nhs-in-a-nutshell/health-care-spend...

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 October 2016
Zohaib A Siddiqui
4th year medical student
Zain Siddiqui, Fahd Husain
King's College London