Rishi Sunak has pledged to introduce fines for patients who miss GP and hospital appointments as part of a shake-up of the NHS.
The former chancellor said those failing to show up for appointments are “taking those slots away from people who need [them]”.
To fufill his promise, the Tory leadership candidate said he would begin by fining patients who do not give sufficient notice for missing their appointment.
A first time offender would be given the benefit of the doubt but missed appointments after would ring up charges of £10 each time.
Speaking to The Telegraph about the appointments, Mr Sunak said: “If they’re not being used, then that’s a waste. “So if we can change that, then we basically get more out of the money that we’re putting in today. It’s a good example of a Conservative approach to that problem.”
The system would only be temporary, however, until the NHS is able to clear the Covid backlog that has seen millions of patients overdue for care.
According to NHS England, over 15 million appointments at GPs go to waste each year.
However, until now doctors have resisted ideas of fines to patients who miss appointments, worrying it could scare people away.
Mr Sunak faces his rival Liz Truss for the battle to become the new prime minister.
The two contenders will now face each other at 12 Tory hustings debates around the country, viewable on the party website, starting on 28 July in Leeds and finishing on 31 August in London.
Both candidates have also agreed to feature in a Sky News debate on 4 August, with the possibility of more TV hustings events in the weeks ahead. Although the whole process does not come to an end until early September, many of the estimated 160,000 Tory members who get to decide on the next PM could make their minds up much sooner.
Ballot papers will begin landing on Tory members’ doorsteps as soon as 1 August, with the party telling paid-up supporters to expect them between 1 and 5 August.
Meanwhile, Sunak said on Sunday that racism is not a factor in the Conservative Party membership’s decision to vote for the next party leader and successor to Johnson.
“I absolutely don’t think that’s a factor in anyone’s decision. I just don’t think that’s right,” Sunak told ‘The Daily Telegraph’ in an interview.
“I was selected as a member of Parliament in Richmond… Our members rightly put merit above everything else. I’m sure when they are considering this question, they are just figuring out who is the best person to be Prime Minister… Gender, ethnicity and everything else will have nothing to do with it,” said the Tory MP for Richmond, Yorkshire.
“It wasn’t that long ago, the commentary was that I wouldn’t even have been a part of this contest,” he pointed out, a reference to the attacks on his wife Akshata Murty’s tax status on her Infosys shares.