If you live near some branches of Boots, you can now pop in and get a sore throat check for £7.50 or a skin cancer check for £35. But how happy would you be to pay for health services you can also get free on the NHS?
It seems that barely a week goes by without tales of new health checks or services that you can buy, offering perhaps greater convenience or speedier service.
As well as the Boots services, which may be rolled out further across the country, private GP home visits are provisionally scheduled to start this summer.
The idea is that you’ll be able to summon a doctor as easily as calling an Uber cab and whichever GP is nearest will get your business and be straight to your front door. The GP might be able to diagnosis, treat, refer, provide medical letters and prescribe medication, as required.
Modern services for busy people?
Are such ideas simply modern services for busy people happy to pay to skip NHS queues – with the added bonus of relieving pressure on an already stretched public healthcare system?
In a sense the argument is no different to one we’ve been having about private health care for many years.
Some people, lucky enough to be able to afford it, already pay for certain aspects of their care. For example, many people are able and content to shell out for a private dentist in an effort to avoid lengthy queues or long waiting times.
So is the idea of popping into your local high street chemist for a check-up or paying for a private home doctor service to ease your mind about some ache or pain, any different?
Would you be happy to pay? And how would you feel, for example, if the GP who visited you via that Uber-style 24 hours a day, seven days a week service was the same one that you usually saw anyway at your local surgery…just by waiting a bit longer.
Would you really be happy to pay in the hope of getting a more prompt and convenient service or would you prefer to rely on the NHS?