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Call for revamp of health charges

A leading think tank is calling for a revamp of NHS charges, according to the Guardian.

The Social Market Foundation's health commission investigation found that introducing fees for convenient GP appointments and removing prescription charge exemptions for wealthier pensioners could create vital extra revenue.

The commission stressed that the current system of NHS charges needs to be overhauled because the existing levels of health spending cannot be sustained.

Chairman Lord Lipsey said: "The system of exemptions is inefficient. Shifting to an entirely income-based system of exemption, which requires those wealthy members of society who are currently exempted to pay for their prescriptions, would generate considerably more revenue for the NHS."

The report rejects the idea of charging patients for missing GP appointments, claiming that the failure to cancel could be down to unanswered GP surgery calls. In addition, it said, the effect of missed appointments is often minimal.

However, critics of the findings claim that the introduction of these new charges could lead to a two-tier NHS.

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