Reform says 'reform the NHS'9th September 2008
An independent think tank has proposed that private firms and PCTs should "compete to insure patients under a state-funded scheme".
The proposals by the Reform think tank state that every person in the UK should be allocated a voucher worth £2,000 every year so they could purchase health insurance.
The group argued that encouraging competition would ensure better treatment for patients and would keep costs low.
Reform have argued that their "far-reaching" proposals would "combine the current principle of universal cover with market incentives".
Their insurance plan would let patients make a choice about who they purchased their insurance from. The £2,000 allocated for this purchase is the same figure that the health service pays out for healthcare per person annually.
Every patient would be allowed a "minimum range of treatments and drugs" which the group said would stop the "postcode lottery" of current treatment availability.
"The ideas in this report would turn a vast nationalised industry into our NHS," said Nick Bosanquet, professor of health policy at Imperial College London and one of the report's authors.
"They amount to a far-reaching shift in responsibility and ownership towards individuals."
Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said he welcomed Reform's ideas about patients being given more power, but rejected its calls to overhaul how the NHS is funded.
Mr Clegg said the government's "command and control" of the NHS needed to end and that he thought patients should be able to contribute to payments for drugs (the "top up" system).
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the concept of a "patient passport" "threatened the financial stability of the NHS".
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