How Excellent: The NHS To Start Charging For Doctor’s Appointments
THIS is going to cause an awful lot of shouting around and about the place but it’s also an excellent idea. That the NHS should start charging people when they make a doctor’s appointment. The shouting will come from those who insist that the NHS must be free at the point of use. The excellent part comes from the way in which the NHS should not be free at the point of use.
Here’s the report:
GPs are to hold a vote on charging for appointments.
The idea is to deter patients from missing consultations – a problem that costs £160million a year. The fees – possibly between £10 and £25 – would be the first since the NHS was founded in 1948.
One GP said an entire morning’s work was lost when 14 patients failed to turn up. Others believe the free care offered by the Health Service is unsustainable in the face of an aging and increasingly obese population.
It is feared however that charging would stop patients seeking help or encourage them to go to overstretched casualty units.
The proposal is to be debated at the British Medical Association’s local medical committee conference in York on May 22.
The problem is that people don’t value things that are free. Therefore if appointments are free many people make them and then don’t bother turning up. so, what’s the solution? Make people pay a fee for booking an appointment.
And yes, this is how things happen in certain other countries and it works very well. You can also play around with how you’re going to do the charging. The first and most obvious thing is to make sure that someone with a chronic illness isn’t having to pay out significant amounts of their income on just making appointments. The Swedes do this by imposing a (low) cap on total payments over a year. Around and about after the fifth paid for appointment all the rest are free.
We could also refund the money if the people actually turned up for the appointment. In that way it would be a charge for missing an appointment, not having one.
But however we run the system in detail the basic idea of charging people for an appointment is just great. Simply because people don’t value things that are free and thus fritter them away.