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Tories bring in plans for patient&#39s passport

Patients would be encouraged to seek treatment from private medical insurers and self-pay providers under Conservative proposals aimed at fundamentally reforming the NHS.

The idea of a patient&#39s passport was outlined by Shadow health minister Dr Liam Fox at the Tory Party&#39s spring conference in Harrogate last weekend.

The proposal is initially to enable patients to go to another NHS provider if their local provider is not competitive but would then be extended to the private market.

It would see patients informed by their GP of NHS waiting times compared with private services. They could then opt for private treatment, taking a proportion of their NHS tariff with them.

The move has been welcomed by providers as a stepping stone to fundamental reform of the NHS.

Norwich Union HealthCare has suggested that allowing patients to use a proportion of their NHS tariff on PMI or self-pay treatment could see premiums halved.

Fox said: “We will introduce a Patients&#39 Passport which will enable patients to move around a number of providers, NHS, not for profit, voluntary or independent.

“This freedom is essential if we are going to see greater plurality and diversity in both the funding and provision of healthcare that we seek.”

NUHC commercial director Tim Baker says: “This is quite an interesting idea. You could see this as a stepping stone on a route to more fundamental reform to the NHS. It could lower the cost of PMI and self-pay by as much as 40 to 50 per cent.”

Western Provident Association head of communications Charlie MacEwan says: “By giving patients a choice, you are creating a marketplace. This will make people value healthcare as a service and they will be more willing to pay for it.”

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