£10 fine for failing to report to NHS, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has vowed to impose fines on patients who do not show up for NHS appointments – Christopher Pledger for The Telegraph

Rishi Sunak would introduce a £10 fine for missed doctor and hospital appointments as part of a “transformative” shake-up of the NHS, the former chancellor has said.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Conservative leader said it was “not right” for patients not to attend consultations, scans and check-ups, “taking those spaces away from people who need [them]”.

Vowing to revive the “reforming zeal” of “the early days of the Coalition,” the former chancellor said he would start imposing fines in cases where patients do not attend an appointment without giving enough notice to allow the surgery or hospital to offer the groove to others.

The first time a patient missed an appointment, they would be given “the benefit of the doubt”, but subsequent missed appointments would incur charges of £10 each time.

The system would be “temporary” as the NHS tries to clear the Covid-19 backlog of more than six million patients waiting for planned care.

Rishi Sunak meets Tory members at Fontwell Park racecourse on Saturday - Joe Sene/PA wire

Rishi Sunak meets Tory members at Fontwell Park racecourse on Saturday – Joe Sene/PA wire

Sunak said that as chancellor, “I was frustrated that the government’s focus was much more on spending money on public services…and there was not enough focus on reforming them,” adding: “I want to be a transformational prime minister.”

Separately, Sunak admitted that he insisted on increasing National Insurance after the Prime Minister made it clear he wanted to significantly increase NHS spending and put new money into social care. Liz Truss, his opponent, has agreed to reverse the rise.

On Saturday, a Savanta ComRes poll of 511 Conservative councilors placed Sunak and Truss almost neck-and-neck among local Conservative MPs, with Truss at 31 per cent and Sunak at 29 per cent. Some 32 percent are still undecided, days before party members receive their ballots this week.

In all, 88 per cent of those surveyed said the next prime minister should reform the NHS.

Sunak also pledged to help the country’s main streets by allowing city councils to double the current fines that can be imposed on those who blight cities with graffiti and litter. He is also considering plans to make it easier to convert empty stores into places like cafes.

Describing his plan to introduce fines for NHS missed appointments, Sunak said: “If they’re not used, then it’s wasteful. So if we can change that, we’ll basically get more out of the money we’re putting in.” nowadays. It’s a good example of a conservative approach to that problem.”

According to NHS England, more than 15 million GP surgery appointments are wasted every year due to patients not showing up or warning surgeries they won’t be attending. Between January and April of this year alone, almost 4.5 million appointments were missed.

Doctors have previously opposed proposals to fine missed appointments, on the grounds that such a scheme would introduce a new layer of bureaucracy for difficult surgeries and could deter patients from needing care.

But Sunak said: “They told me with all the things I had to do during the furlough, during the pandemic, ‘this is all too complicated’ or ‘we’re not going to finish this on time.'” found ways to do it.

“Yes, it means we have to do something brave and something different, but that’s what I do.”

Rishi Sunak campaigning in Winchester on Saturday - Chris J Ratcliffe/PA wire

Rishi Sunak campaigning in Winchester on Saturday – Chris J Ratcliffe/PA wire

Writing in The Telegraph, Lord Forsyth, who served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher and Sir John Major, accused Sunak of a “tendency to be driven by Treasury orthodoxy”, adding: “The Conservatives believe in sound money, encourage small businesses and reduce, fairer, flatter, simpler taxes. I’m not sure Rishi fully understands.”

But Sunak insisted: “My plan defies the orthodoxy of the last 10 years, which has been shown to be spectacularly incorrect.”

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