Letter: NHS funding

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report (3 October) suggests that there has been little public protest against the imposition of NHS charges for dental care and eye tests. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Patients and professional groups have consistently opposed this form of NHS charging, on the grounds that it is the most vulnerable members of society who suffer. Recent evidence suggests that since the introduction of charges for eye and dental checks, there has been a reduction in uptake among the people who need these tests most. Opinion polls have shown that the Liberal Democrat policy of funding eye and dental tests from revenue raised by a tax on tobacco is one of the most popular planks of our health policy.

The current rumours of charges for core NHS services such as GP visits and X-rays are extremely worrying for the chronically ill. The Government refuses to allay their anxiety by ruling out the possibility of charging the old and the sick for NHS treatment, yet it has ruled out the option of tax increases for the relatively well-off to ensure that our hospitals are adequately funded through the coming winter and beyond.

Dr EVAN HARRIS MP

(Lib Dem, Oxford West and Abingdon)

House of Commons

London SW1

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