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Independents' Day

Labour survey shows Tory support for appointment charging

Almost one quarter of Conservative Party councillors favour the introduction of charging for GP appointments, a survey by the Labour Party has indicated.

A Labour Party member who surveyed Tory local government representatives found that 26 out of 115 resondents, or 23%, were in favour of introducing charges for GP appointments and other NHS services.

The Labour Party said the survey’s revelations, which showed 31% of Tory councillors were in favour of either charging, further privatisation of the NHS or cuts to the service, were ‘signficant because the current cohort of Tory councillors is likely to make up a significant proportion of the next intake of Tory MPs’.

However the Conservative Party rebutted the claims, saying that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has firmly ruled out appointment charges, and accused Labour of continuing to ‘weaponise’ the NHS.

Example responses from the survey, undertaken by a student who informed councillors he was a member of the Labour Party during April, included suggestions for a £10 standard charge for appointments for all patients except certain benefits recipients.

Councillor Bob Baldwin, a Conservative member of West Devon Council, said that with prescription costs already charged to patients who can afford them, there ‘is no reason why this principle could not be extended to other services e.g. GP visits, with the proviso that vulnerable people are protected’.

Conservative Councillor Richard Curthoys for St Albans District Council suggested the charge could be refundable if the GP visit was ‘a genuine case’, further suggesting charges could be rolled out for patients attending A&E for non-emergency treatment when they ‘should be going to their GP’.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham commented: ‘This is the real face of the Tory Party. They have let the cat out of the bag - five more years of David Cameron means more NHS privatisation and charging.

‘It is clear that, just like last time, Cameron’s NHS promises have an expiry date of election day stamped on them. He promised no top-down reorganisation and brought forward the biggest-ever top-down reorganisation. If he gets back in, the NHS will be sunk by a toxic mix of cuts and privatisation. Instead, Labour’s better plan will invest in 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs.’

However, the Conservative Party rebutted the claims.

A Conservative spokesperson said: ‘This marks a new low in Ed Miliband’s desperate attempts to weaponise the NHS. His credibility on health is in tatters because he refuses to fund the £8bn the NHS needs.

‘By building a stronger economy, we have protected and improved the NHS with 9,500 more doctors, 6,900 more nurses, and 1.3 million more life-saving operations every year. There is only one threat to the future of our NHS and that is the economic chaos of an Ed Miliband-SNP government.’


Readers' comments (7)

  • Government doesn't care about the donkey GP or A+E staff welfare, more about companies of the supply chain, their I.T. feedback software pals and big pharma.

    So feel free colleagues to prescribe as you like and refer as many as you want with evidence base and patients as a priority as the customer is here to stay and is always right in 21st century medicine, and in the coming days when you don't "supply" the customer many people will come knocking at your door.

    Plus you can feel comforted that anywhere from 8000-10000 GPs are coming to help.

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  • I think we should cut benefits . Namely benefits to landlords who supply sub standard accommodation and benefits to companies that pay crap wages .

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  • Shock news in election time - Labour says Tories will kill the NHS. Tories say Labour will bankrupt the country and with it the NHS.

    They are all full of sh*t. It depresses me that I am supposed to believe and trust one of the two of them (there is no way that we could ever have a UKIP/Green/SNP/Plaid etc health sec) and yet it is obvious that they all say whatever they think will get them elected. There is no honesty in politics at all any more.

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  • time to move to the dental model with new royal college / separate union.

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  • Medicine is no longer medicine now. Gutted. Time to be explorers and set our boats out if you can.

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  • "Almost a quarter 23%!!!"

    Does that not mean then that over 3/4's or 77% are against? Why don't we dwell on this positive instead of the minor negative? Because its typical Politics, Labour could form the next Government on 23% of the vote so it must be a massive figure!!! Holly Hocks!!

    "A Charge for all those not on benefits." I'm afraid, if we are absolutely honest, (unlike our Political Masters) that the vast majority of time wasters, DNA's, unnecessary demands and expectations come from the very group that we are proposing do not pay. So once again the honest hardworking tax paying contributor to the NHS has to double up to fund the lzay lifestyle of the abusers!!! It will bring money in but will have no effect on DNA's and time wasters because they wont pay anyway..... Madness.

    That is why charging won't work and cannot be introduced unless it includes everyone!!

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  • If a low figure of 23% is "Tories showing support" I'm glad Mr Burnham is not in the race to be Treasurer!!!

    But at least this shows how and why the Labour Party got their sums so vastly wrong whilst in Government.

    Surely if 23% are for something then 77% are against and therefore the headline should have read: LABOUR SURVEY SHOWS VERY LITTLE TORY SUPPORT FOR APPOINTMENT CHARGING.

    I would wager that 23% of most Parties would support appointment charging!!!

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