Dismay at failure to grow private cover

Chancellor’s spring statement

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement has left insurers disappointed at his failure to provide tax incentives to help attract more patients to take up private medical insurance.

The Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) said the Chancellor should have used the opportunity to incentivise private medical insurance take-up to help tackle the record-breaking NHS treatment backlog.

David Middleton

David Middleton, its chairman, said: ‘The Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement gave the perfect opportunity for the Government to help alleviate the huge care and treatment backlogs in the NHS by introducing tax incentives for those who wish to, and already have, purchased private medical insurance.

‘The Government’s delivery plan for tackling the Covid-19 backlog of elective care published in February made positive noises about how the private medical market can work with the NHS. 

‘Calls for tax incentives have already been made from the Conservative backbenches in Parliament and this would have been the ideal time to announce this policy initiative.’

He said the AMII regretted the Chancellor had chosen not to act and was asking: if not now, when?

Budget does nothing for pensions, BMA protests

The BMA has expressed concerns over the Spring statement’s failure to take any steps to ease senior doctors’ problems with pension payments taxation.

Council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘It is deeply disappointing that the Chancellor has failed to heed the BMA’s call to address the punitive pension taxation rules, which is resulting in many doctors being unable to take on extra work or forced to retire early. 

‘This comes at a time of when severe staffing shortages threatens the very sustainability of the NHS and compromises patients care.’

He also criticised the absence of a costed plan to deliver a long-term workforce strategy to ensure the NHS has the doctors, nurses and staff it needs to meet current and future healthcare demands.

Dr Nagpaul added: ‘While the Government has retained its commitment to boost NHS funding through the Health and Social Care Levy, we were disappointed that there was no mention of how they would fund the extra £7bn needed to clear the current backlog.’

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned soaring inflation, hitting 6.2% in February, would push more people into poverty and have significant impact on the health service through being forced to pay more in bills, equipment and bank and agency staff wages.