Alex from Watford explained that free GP appointments should work the same way as free prescriptions after Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak said he would levy a £10 fine for patients who miss GP and hospital appointments as part of a “transformative” overhaul of the NHS. Speaking to LBC, Alex said: “If you look at NHS prescriptions, a large portion of the country doesn’t have to pay for those. They’re eligible for free prescriptions.
“What I would do is do the same thing for GP appointments.
“For people that have serious illnesses or low incomes, GP appointments should be free 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 be pay £10 to see their GP.”
He continued: “I look at healthcare data, I look at the healthcare of the population; try and identify ways to understand health inequality.
“The massive variation would be health in the population.”
It comes as reducing poverty and economic inequality in the UK should be an “urgent public health necessity” as these are “toxic” to mental and physical health, a report warns.
The Centre for Mental Health is sounding the alarm over a “public health emergency” that needs to be addressed by increasing the income and reducing costs of the least well-off.
Millions of people will suffer preventable harm and health and care services will be overwhelmed if poverty and deprivation keep deepening and worsening health continues, 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.
It said research has firmly established that poverty is linked to a higher risk of developing more than a dozen illnesses, while a fall in income is linked to declining mental health.
Policy-makers should prioritise reducing poverty, deprivation, and economic inequality “as an urgent public health necessity”, it says.
It reads: “If the current trajectory of deepening poverty and deprivation, widening economic inequality and worsening health continues, millions of people will suffer preventable harm and health and social care services will be overwhelmed by demand.
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“This is a public health emergency that requires action to increase the incomes and reduce the costs of the most deprived 40% of the population.”
The briefing notes that Government measures during the coronavirus pandemic – including the furlough scheme and temporary increase to universal credit – “undoubtedly blunted” its economic impact and may have protected many people’s mental health during the lockdowns.
It is calling on the Government to increase the incomes of the poorest people by increasing benefits, ending the benefits cap and increasing the national minimum wage.
It could reduce costs for this group by building more energy-efficient social rent homes and extending free childcare, early years education, school meals and period products, it says.
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