As part of our "NHS at 70" coverage, we invited readers to come up with ways that the National Health Service might save money.
Here is a selection of your suggestions. Please have your say in the comment box below.
Time to go two two-tier
Since the NHS’s inception, there have been advances in every field of medicine: think of open heart surgery, renal dialysis, cardiac pacemakers and artificial hips, to name but a few. Wonder drugs treat almost any condition – but at huge cost. The free-for-all cannot continue.
We should follow the route taken by other European countries to a two-tier system: means-tested, freely available healthcare up to a certain income level, to be topped up thereafter by private insurance.
John Holm Gray, Reading, Berkshire
Book GP appointments online
Online booking has become the norm for restaurants, flights and hotels, but very few people have the option to book their healthcare online. More than 80 per cent of GP appointments are made over the phone.
Practices that use online booking platforms such as findoc.co.uk are reducing no-shows by up to 70 per cent, filling last-minute openings, decreasing telephone call volumes and email bookings and lowering booking management costs.
Practices that use online booking platforms such as findoc.co.uk are reducing no-shows by up to 70 per cent
Xavier Bernal, London N1
I suggest labelling all large pieces of equipment – such as X-ray machines, scanners and life support machines – with the purchase price and maintenance charges, so that patients can see what even the “basic” costs are.
Joan Tait, Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey
Charge patients for hospital food
When people are in hospital, they are not paying food bills at home. Why not make a small charge for each day, some for reinvestment, some for better meals?
Elizabeth Church, Northampton
Build a volunteer work force
Adult social services are unsustainable in their current form, so there needs to be a scheme to motivate younger people to volunteer for community organisations. I suggest a small reduction in council tax for those who complete a certain number of accredited volunteering hours.
Dr Daphne Pearson, Monmouth
Rethink free medication for life
I was diagnosed with no thyroid function at an “early” age and thus qualified for free prescriptions for everything. Why? This must be the case for large numbers of the population. Exempt the specific medication, not the person.
Caroline Gorst, Aude, France
Give snips the snip
The NHS was set up to cure people. What does Botox, vasectomy or breast enhancement cure?
John N H Smith, Ramsgate
Pay the NHS direct
Why can’t the NHS reclaim their car parks, and run their own hospital pharmacies?
Joyce Wiles, Enfield, Middlesex
Reintroduce central buying
Following the story of one hospital paying 4,500 per cent more than another on rubber gloves, let’s return to NHS England buying and distributing medical supplies to hospitals on a national level.
Simon C Meares, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
Open discharge units
Bed-blockingis a very costly waste of resources. Some of the millions earmarked for the NHS should be used to build temporary accommodation units for patients who are ready for discharge but waiting either for a home assessment or a nursing home place. These could be staffed mainly by carers and would prevent expensive hospital beds from being blocked.
Dr Dee Dawson, London N20
Bring back national service
I think what is missing from the national discourse is a true understanding of what the NHS does and how tireless and dedicated its workers are. If we re-introduced a national service, but with its focus being to support the NHS, young people could do a years service and learn all aspects of the care sector. I think this would lead to less needless drunken A&E visits and a greater pride in our fine institution.
Michael W McHugh, London E14
Charge non-UK citizens at point of delivery
Rather than tax rises, there are easier ways to fund the NHS.
• Payment at point of use before treatment for those who do not have a UK passport or a UK birth certificate, so that EU and non-EU migrants pay, as we do in France.
• All GPs hospital departments to have credit card terminals. All EU countries do this, so should we.
Gabrielle Teare, London SW3
Clamp down on staff pensions
Examples of NHS waste on a huge scale include the six million missed hospital appointments per year, prescriptions for gluten-free foods, mobility aids given out free (there is no means testing). And all this in an organisation that offers an eye-wateringly generous early retirement scheme to the staff it cannot afford to lose and cannot readily replace.
Matthew Sands, Horncastle, Lincolnshire