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?

The NHS is close to financial collapse. Riddled with PFI bills at extortionate rates, and with demand rising far higher than funding, a frank discussion is needed on how to fund the NHS moving forwards. The founding principle of the NHS is that it is free at the point of use and, for me, this must remain the case.

How we fund this is of course where the difficulty lies. Public support for the NHS has always been high. I believe that if the public were given a choice between paying for a private insurance 'top-up', or a dedicated 1% tax on earnings over a particular threshold, most would think the latter is a far better option. Public finances are stretched, and we have been told there is going to be no extra funding from government. So called efficiency savings, many of which have had large up-front costs attached, have been exhausted, demand will continue to rise and there will be no more funding. Now is the time for a brave move, or else we could lose the founding principle of the NHS all together.

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 October 2016
Toby Flack
Foundation Year 1 Doctor
Drs Mess, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8DH