Conservative shadow health minister Alan Duncan has urged the public to look to private health insurance and other mutual and community financial arrangements, calling them an “unharnessed method of provision”.
His comments came during a speech to the Social Market Foundation, during which he repeated shadow health secretary Ann Widdecombe’s assertion that “the NHS cannot do everything”.
He echoed her call for new ways of adding to the total spend on healthcare, saying: “We should look at any form of financial structure which empowers and encourages people, for themselves or collectively, to provide for healthcare.”
Duncan also raised the idea of long term care insurance which could be inherited for the same purpose if it were unused. And he urged consideration of the potential for using tax relief to encourage personal provision.
Discussing personal health cover, Duncan said: “It is not about privilege, it is about responsibility. It does not take from the NHS: it releases resources for it.” He added that he believed that those remaining in the NHS would receive better treatment as the pressure on the system overall was reduced, while those that went private would also “get the benefits they seek”.
During his speech, Duncan suggested more encouragement of treatment such as acupuncture, osteopathy, and homeopathy and called for a full assessment of their efficacy.