Most Brits expect to see NHS charging soon

Recent surveys have shown that people in Britain think the NHS, founded on the principle of being free, is likely to be charging for services in the next 10 years. Politicians regularly bring up the idea of fees for GP appointments, missed hospital appointments and other schemes. It is a common topic for debate, particularly when the NHS is under stress and waiting times start to increase.

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What about prescriptions?

People often think the NHS makes money through prescription charges, but NHS prescriptions have been provided free of charge to everyone in Wales since 2007, in Northern Ireland since 2010 and in Scotland since 2011. In England, prescriptions cost £9.65 per item but only around 10% are paid for, as many patients are exempt for various reasons.

Why not charge for services?

Recent disruption to services caused by Covid-19 and the backlog of care, followed by the more recent strikes by nurses and doctors, have put great strain on the NHS. The current round of strikes involves nurses, junior doctors and consultants, as well as ambulance workers, leading people to think that this situation is more serious than previous ones and more likely to bring significant change, such as the introduction of a charging system.

Adding the pressure of having to pay for medical treatment into the current cost of living crisis could lead to a rise in challenging behaviour at hospital clinics and GP practices. People involved in providing services at the front line could benefit from a challenging behaviour course such as those provided by Tidal Training as part of a range of skills needed for those dealing with the general public.

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NHS services experience high levels of challenging behaviour, as they are often the first port of call for people who are ill and in distress. More information about challenging behaviour can be found here:

While NHS frontline services are under such strain it makes sense to provide staff and volunteers with all the necessary tools to cope with difficult situations, including ways to tackle challenging behaviour wherever it is experienced.

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