Serious dialogue needed over future funding of public health system
The NHS should be apoliticised and run by an independent body instead of politicians, argued Professor Robert Winston.
Speaking at the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) annual conference, scientist and broadcaster Prof Winston said there was a need for a serious dialogue about the future funding of the public health system.
"At the moment, it is a political football. I think it needs to be apoliticised and managed by an independent body. I do accept that the Treasury has to pay for it but apart from that it should not be involved," he said.
However, disagreeing with Prof Winston, Mike Hall, chief executive officer at Standard Life Healthcare, who took part in a panel discussion at the AMII event, said: "When you have a health service completely funded by taxpayers' money it will always be political."
Prof Winston added that he thought private practice should be brought into the NHS rather than being a separate entity.
"There is no need for a two-tiered system, but we need more partnerships between public and private healthcare provision," he said.
Prof Winston argued that it was very difficult to predict what would happen in the years ahead. "The perception of risk is really important for the insurance industry. We are at risk of all sorts of infections. However, it is really hard to predict what will happen," he said.
Criticising the way the UK's health system is treating women having IVF treatment, Prof Winston said: "The private sector in the UK is exploiting women wishing to have IVF treatment.
"In my view IVF should be much cheaper - like it is in countries such as Australia," he added.
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