Doctors' report claims: 'We no longer have free health care' - The Independent
"Increasing numbers of patients are paying for private "top-up" treatments alongside NHS care, meaning the health service is no longer free, a report by leading doctors warns today.
The doctors have written to all three main political parties, and the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, outlining their concerns that the idea of a free health service is a "political mirage".
The study was written by three doctors, including Karol Sikora, professor of cancer medicine at Imperial College School of Medicine for the group Doctors for Reform, which has nearly 1,000 members, all working for the NHS.
It says that patients are developing "sophisticated approaches to purchasing upgrades to their care", including in key areas such as cancer and heart disease.
Publication of the report "Free at the point of delivery: reality or political mirage" comes the day after International Development Secretary Hilary Benn was heckled by union delegates as he tried to defend the Government's record on the NHS.
While politicians often claim care is free at the point of delivery "this mantra is now a political mirage", the report said. Doctors for Reform is urging a debate on future healthcare funding."
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