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Independents' Day

Tory plans to cut the deficit will lead to NHS charging, claims Ed Balls

Conservative Party proposals for cutting the UK’s budget deficit will be impossible to achieve without introducing charging for NHS services, the Labour Party has claimed.

In a speech today, shadow chancellor Ed Balls called on chancellor George Osborne to ‘come clean’ on how he hopes to create a £23bn surplus while pledging to protect NHS funding.

He suggested Mr Osborne’s plans would require budget cuts of £70bn, which would necessitate introducing charging for healthcare services.

At the Conservative Party conference in October last year, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that ‘not a penny’ of the NHS budget will be cut untill 2020 if his party are re-elected in May.

But Mr Balls said: ‘An unprecedented £70 billion of spending cuts which would be deeply destructive and close to impossible, even for this Chancellor. So George Osborne must surely have an alternative plan in his back pocket.

‘The evidence is clear – countries which reduce public spending at the pace George Osborne intends have found they have had no alternative but to cut health spending.

‘And those who have reduced public spending to the levels that George Osborne is seeking have health systems where charging for services is triple the share here. ‘  

He added: ‘If David Cameron and George Osborne cannot spell out how their sums add up for non-protected departments in order to achieve their fiscal surplus, the British people can only conclude - and would be right to conclude - that alternative plans do exist: to cut NHS spending and introduce charging.’

Photo credit: Green Alliance

Readers' comments (11)

  • Watch out for pensions . Private companies, which will run the NHS if the tories win , cannot afford the NHS pension . Therefore logic dictates it must be destroyed . They're being blatant about it now.

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  • Copayment and nothing free at the point of us, only way to go to sustain the NHS.

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  • Good. Then let's hope labour does not get in. Copayment is a good idea for access to gatekeeper services. Speciality care ahould be free. Only way to encourage responsible behaviour and limit demand. Labour are clueless. Poor policies. No plan. The non negotiable £1 million lifetime and 30k annual allowance will also be a disaster for doctors and many middle class families. The bra in drain will continue. You have to understand that it is the aspiring middle that creates wealth, opportunities and an economy.

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  • Nhs should be charged nominal fees for appointments but not for treatment though. This would go a very long way to reducing waste and inappropriate demand.

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  • Is that true Mr Balls? Great, that halps me decide to vote Conservative. The cult religion of the "free at the point of Abuse" NHS is destroying the NHS. Payment to make an appointment with the GP is a necessary part of saving the NHS and is done by every other civilised country in this world.

    Why, Mr Balls, do you want to blindly pursue a policy which is destroying the NHS and GP services?

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  • Co-payments and insurance like the rest of the world.

    Nominal £10 fee to see your GP and £20 to go to A&E. Patients to pay the difference at the pharmacy (no more battles in GP land) when they demand brands rather than generic drugs. Flat rate of £1 per item on prescriptions to reduce waste (but this would dent the profits of Boots, Lloyds and big pharma & co so be prepared for heavy lobbying by them).

    The taxpayer still would be funding 99% but watch demand and waste plummit in primary care. It would still be by far the most amasing and generous health service in the world and it would help regulate demand.

    By the way. in Germany working people typically pay around £200 a month for their health insurance and its still not enough for the system to cope.

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  • And your alternative Ed?

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  • 20-50p per item to reduce waste, no exceptions for age or benefits

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  • At last we are getting to the end game. Charging the only way to manage demand. Another reason to vote Tory

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  • I am afraid, the introduction of a small payment is now necessary to allow NHS to survive.

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