Field to meet health secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss raising national insurance contributions
A Tory minister has asked Labour MP Frank Field to meet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to discuss his ideas for raising national insurance contributions to pay for the NHS, in a sign that the Conservatives are considering radical options to plug the huge funding gap.
Field told the Observer that he was approached by the minister, who said the financial crisis in the NHS needed to be addressed and that he was right to be floating ideas on how the service could be maintained and put on a sound financial footing for future generations.
Field told the minister he would be willing to meet the health secretary, but not before he had held talks with shadow chancellor Ed Balls about his proposals, which he did last Tuesday.
According to Field, the minister also said that the financial crisis in the NHS had been the subject of discussions at high levels in government in recent weeks.
Field is drawing up proposals that he says will help to fill a looming £30bn a year “black hole” in NHS funding that will occur by 2020.
Without action, he says, a Labour or any other government would be faced with the prospect of having to make swingeing cuts across the other public services, far deeper than envisaged so far, to maintain the NHS in anything like its current form….
Mr Hunt and colleagues in the coalition are unwilling to discuss philosophy – so they ask Frank for a “financial solution”.. Copayments through the back door of increased NI contributions. Until they are willing to challenge that the Health Services will provide “everything for everyone for ever” they are bound to fail. Raising NI contributions is a short term fix of the worst sort. It does not even have the virtue of a “hypothecated taxation“. It will be interesting to hear what Wales, Scotland and Ireland have to say: I expect them to embrace the suggestions – after all who questions more money? Is the crisis so severe that the normal “limbo” period will be ignored? (An NHS in Limbo – for how long? GP votes for 2015 “undecided”..) Talk about shuffling deckchairs and increasing inequalities