Boris Johnson blamed political “cowardice” for keeping the NHS free for all but the “genuinely sick” and “elderly” and argued that “if people have to pay” for NHS services, “they will value them more.”
In a column for the Spectator magazine in 1995, unearthed by Business Insider, Johnson wrote that charging patients would prevent the NHS being “abused” by those who could afford to pay.
The latest revelations appear as the website Red Roar posted a clip of Johnson’s speech to the House of Commons in 2002 during which he calls for the break up of the “monolithic, monopolistic” NHS, as well as a Telegraph article from 2002 in which Johnson suggested ““imposing a 25 per cent upfront charge – which is refundable later – on everyone who calls to see the doctor.”
‘Johnson does not support a free at the point of use NHS’
The prime minister has tried to reassure voters repeatedly during the election campaign that the NHS is safe with the Conservatives but Donald Trump’s arrival at in London for the NATO summit has refocused the debate on the future of the NHS post-Brexit.
Labour have pounced on the most recently revealed comments with shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth telling Business Insider: “This is yet another quote direct from the horse’s mouth showing Boris Johnson does not support a free at the point of use NHS.”
Ashworth added: “These revelations are coming thick and fast and demonstrate Johnson’s extremist views on the NHS. More cuts, privatisation and now charges are on the way if Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party get five more years.”
‘It is greed and cowardice’
In the 1995 Spectator column Johnson wrote: “If NHS services continue to be free in this way, they will continue to be abused, like any free service”, adding: “if people have to pay for them, they will value them more.”
He wrote about calling for an ambulance for his child who turned out not to be ill and asked: “Why should I not be charged, say, £50 for that inglorious episode, a fraction of its real cost?”
He continued: “I will not be charged for the ambulance because politicians dare not take away from the middle classes the benefits they have accrued under the welfare state.
“For the same reason they will not take away all the other instruments of universal provision such as child benefit, disability allowance, and the rest. It is greed on our part, and cowardice on theirs.”
‘Courage to make cuts of the viciousness required’
The prime minister told the recent BBC Question Time special: “If you go through all my articles with a fine-tooth comb and take out individual phrases there is no doubt that you can find things that can be made to seem offensive and of course I understand that.”
That led to the unearthing of highly offensive comments about “drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hope- less” working class men and “uppity and irresponsible” women, among other comments that garnered headlines last week.
In that Spectator article, Johnson said the government of the time did not have “the courage to make the cuts in the safety net of the viciousness required to provide anything like such a deterrent.”
Business Insider claims to be the “largest business news site on the web” and was launched in 2007 by “former top-ranked Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget and DoubleClick executives Dwight Merriman and Kevin Ryan”. It was acquired by German media company Axel Springer SE in 2015.