The BMA has rejected an apparent NHS Scotland suggestion to charge wealthier patients for treatment.
Yesterday, the BBC reported on draft minutes from a meeting of Scottish NHS leaders in September, where the idea of implementing a two-tier health service – with the wealthy paying for treatment -was discussed and dismissed.
The BBC also reported that other suggestions included hospitals aiming to send patients home more quickly, and pausing the funding of some new drugs.
The possibility of reducing some free prescriptions was also raised at the meeting.
Responding to the reports, BMA Scotland chair Dr Iain Kennedy said that the two-tier system ‘threatens’ the fundamental principle of free healthcare, and the NHS should ‘avoid sleepwalking’ into this scheme.
He said: ‘We have been extremely clear that our health service should remain free at the point of need and true to its founding principles – and that should be a starting point for any wider discussion on its future.
‘We need a proper, open conversation about the NHS and how we make it sustainable now, and for generations to come’, he added.
Last week, Pulse reported on the BMA’s warnings that more than a third of Scottish practices have reported at least one GP vacancy, compared to just over a quarter this time last year.
Prior to winter last year, the Scottish Government and BMA agreed to a £30m pot of funding, which was to be paid in two £15m instalments in December 2021 and April 2022.
However, due to rising inflation, the Scottish Government reduced the pre-agreed fund last month.
Dr Kennedy said: ‘Healthcare workers cannot do any more than they are currently doing – we need to be honest that the entire workforce is on its knees.’
‘NHS boards have a nigh on impossible task in making the budgets provided deliver everything that is being asked by the Scottish government,’ he added.
‘This is a dire situation for our NHS, with a massive lack of resources to meet spiralling demand across primary and secondary care. Things won’t magically get better – we need an open and honest discussion, and we need change, urgently – if we fall into a two-tier system our NHS, and everyone who needs it, has been failed.’