Labour MP and former Welfare Minister Frank Field is suggesting running the NHS as a mutual. In a written submission to a House of Lords committee examining the sustainability of the NHS on the long term, he suggests a number of changes to the system.
One of these is setting up a mutual model of managing the NHS, with the organisation being owned by its employees. The model, he argues, would allow members to have a “decisive say” on expenditure levels as well as the culture of the organisation. The former minister also refers to John Lewis as an example of a successful mutual. However, if John Lewis is an employee-owned business, his vision for the NHS is to be owned by its users.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Field referred to his proposals to reform the NHS. He suggested a percentage point increase in National Insurance contributions for employees and employers, which, he argued, would raise an extra £50bn for the NHS over the next half decade. The former minister also said that all money raised from NI contribution should be allocated to health and social care.
“The NHS now has a unique place in the public’s affection,” Mr Field says in the written submission. “Surveys show that the public not only wish to support the vision they have for the NHS, but that they are up for a change in funding which will deliver them a better health and social care package when they need it.”
For years the former minister has been advocating for a “something for something” system of National Insurance focused on the principle of contribution. He believes that contributors should own their benefit, that the funds should be managed by new mutuals under their own elected boards and that government should limit its role to establishing the legal framework, and ensure benefit is linked to contribution.