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Middle classes 'favoured' by NHS

28th November 2007

A study by a think-tank has claimed the NHS favours the middle classes.

The report by centre-right think-tank Civitas said the health service was not providing equal treatment to all and that it was a “divisive influence� which favoured the assertive middle classes over poorer people.

The Civitas document pointed out that people in deprived areas were often more in need of treatment, but less likely to get hip replacements or key x-rays and called for more use of the private sector to remedy the situation.

Nick Seddon, who produced the report, said studies had shown that lower income patients made more use of primary care, but were less likely to be referred on for hospital treatment.

There was also a gap between socio-economic groups when it came to angiography, with those in the highest more likely to receive them.

Mr Seddon said: “Much depends on where you live, how much you earn, how old you are and crucially who you know. It has always been said in defence of the NHS that, although it was not the best in terms of quality, it was at least impressive in term of equity. Now that is no longer true.�

He suggested the NHS could follow other European countries with social insurance schemes and use the private sector to increase competition, however opponents claimed that would not help.

Alex Nunns, of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign group, said: “In fact, there is evidence to show that when you involve the private sector, it just exacerbates the situation.�

 

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