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#GPnews: Telegraph calls on Government to consider private insurance to fund NHS

15:00 Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected the House of Commons Health Committee’s claim that the Government is ‘misleading’ the public over how much money it is spending on the NHS, reports the Guardian.

The committee has calculated, based on traditional accounting standards and the Spending Review period, that the NHS investment was more like £4.5bn than the £10bn the Government is claiming to be adding to the annual NHS budget by 2020/21.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: ‘We’ve been clear from the outset that we’ve wanted to ensure that we continue to invest in the NHS, that this would be an increase in real-terms spending of £10bn by 2021. It’s the funding that NHS leaders told us they needed and we have delivered on it.’

The spokesperson added: ‘I think we’ve been clear that there are challenges facing the NHS.’

12:05 The Government is set to review GP fit notes as part of an overhaul of statutory sick pay, in a bid to get more people off sickness benefit and save the NHS billions of pounds.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it could save the NHS £7bn a year because people’s health would improve from being in work.

The details are to be released later today in a Green Paper which will outline how the Government wants to close the gap in unemployment rate between people with disabilities and long-term conditions and those in good health.

The DWP said the plans will see:

  • Statutory Sick Pay and GP fit notes reviewed to support workers back into their jobs faster, and for longer
  • Jobcentre Plus work coaches encouraged to signpost claimants to therapy
  • Launch of a consultation on reforming the Work Capability Assessment – used to assess Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit claimants’ work capability Employers encouraged to work with their employees with long-term health conditions to stop them from falling out of work

The paper will also propose setting up large scale trials on how ‘health-led services and support’ can help disabled people and those with long-term conditions back into work – particularly those with mental health and musculoskeletal conditions.

Mr Hunt said: ‘The additional cost to the NHS of treating long term health conditions that keep people out of work is estimated to be in the region of £7billion per year, which means it is vital the health service is part of this new conversation on health and work. This Green Paper launches a wide-ranging debate about recognising the value of work as a health outcome.

‘With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity – to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health and benefit the NHS all at the same time. I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes.’

11:00 Children as young as eight years old are increasingly seeking help to deal with anxiety, according to NSPCC.

The charity said it saw a 35% increase in calls mentioning anxiety to its Childline helpline in 2015/16.

On average, it received 1,000 such calls a month, it added, with underlying concerns ranging from personal and family issues to worries about the EU referendum.

NSPCC said that girls were seven times more likely to seek help than boys, reports the Independent. 

9:25 The health headlines today are dominated by the Health Select Committee’s damning report around NHS finances, which accuses the Government of misleading people with its claim it is putting £10bn of new money into the NHS.

The Telegraph has written its editorial on the story, and has said that ‘only radical reform’ can save the NHS now.

The ‘radical reform’ it suggests is more patient funding for the health service. It concludes: ’There is no dispute… that the NHS needs more money; the issue is where it comes from. Now is the time to consider new funding streams, including the type of private insurance, voucher and co-funding schemes which exist in many European and Asian countries with impressive outcomes and without uproar from the citizens they serve.

’Our politicians can no longer continue to shy away from more far-reaching reforms if they are not to see the system collapse in the next few years.’

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