Watford’s Alex has explained that free GP appointments should work in the same way as free prescriptions after Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak said he would fine patients who miss £10 GP and hospital appointments as part of a ‘transformative’ NHS overhaul. Speaking to LBC, Alex said: “If you look at NHS prescriptions, a lot of the country doesn’t have to pay for them. They are entitled to free prescriptions.
“What I would do is do the same for GP appointments.
“For people with serious illnesses or on low incomes, GP appointments should be free up to the point of use for them.
“But I think people who are generally healthy and can afford it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay £10 to see their GP.”
He continued: “I look at health care data, I look at population health care; try to identify ways to understand health inequities.
READ MORE: Wait times crisis for children who need help
“The massive variation would be population health.”
It comes because reducing poverty and economic inequality in the UK should be an “urgent public health necessity” as they are “toxic” to mental and physical health, a report warns.
The Mental Health Center is sounding the alarm on a “public health emergency” which must be responded to by increasing incomes and reducing costs for the most deprived.
Millions of people will suffer preventable harm and health and care services will be overwhelmed if poverty and deprivation continue to worsen and health deteriorates, the think tank warned.
Its latest briefing paper – a review of existing research – said there is a “clear link” between poverty, adverse childhood events, poor wellbeing and mental health outcomes.
He said research has firmly established that poverty is linked to a higher risk of developing more than a dozen diseases, while lower income is linked to declining mental health.
Policy makers should prioritize the reduction of poverty, deprivation and economic inequality “as an urgent public health necessity”, the report says.
It reads: “If the current trajectory of deepening poverty and deprivation, worsening economic inequality and deteriorating health continues, millions of people will suffer preventable harm and health services health and social care will be overwhelmed by demand.
DO NOT MISS
‘How much more can we give?!’ Mellor blows the black hole in NHS funding [VIDEO]
Bladder cancer: new drug approved by regulator [INSIGHT]
Labor MP rails against Brits being charged over missed appointments [ANALYSIS]
“This is a public health emergency that requires action to increase incomes and reduce costs for the poorest 40% of the population.”
The briefing notes that government measures during the coronavirus pandemic – including the furlough scheme and the temporary increase in Universal Credit – have “undoubtedly blunted” its economic impact and may have protected the mental health of many people during the closures.
It calls on the government to raise the incomes of the poorest people by increasing benefits, removing the cap on benefits and raising the national minimum wage.
It could cut costs for this group by building more energy-efficient social rental housing and expanding free childcare, early childhood education, school meals and period goods, he says.