The newly appointed health and social care secretary has long standing ties with the chair of an economic think-tank that called for the introduction of a health insurance system, it has been revealed.
Matt Hancock, who was appointed to the role of health and social care secretary last night, has received £28,000 over eight years from Neil Record, who chairs the Institute for Economic Affairs.
However, the IEA say that the payments pre-date Mr Record taking over as chair and the donations have been made in a personal capacity.
They add that there is no ‘lobbying-type relationship’ between Mr Record and the new health secretary.
The donations, recorded by Mr Hancock in the register of members’ interests, state that the money was given ‘in support of my parliamentary work and travel costs in my capacity as an MP’.
Last week, on the 70th birthday of the NHS, the institute described the health service as an ‘international laggard’, adding that ‘it is time to look to the social health insurance systems in Europe’.
Mr Record has donated between £2,000 and £4,000 almost every year since December 2010, when Mr Hancock was elected as an MP for West Suffolk in the general election that year.
The institute has long been critical of the NHS, with a 2016 report supporting the introduction co-payments in a social health insurance (SHI) system comparable to those in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Israel.
The report said: ‘Like the NHS, SHI systems also achieve universal access to healthcare, albeit in a different way, namely through a combination of means-tested insurance premium subsidies, community rating and risk structure compensation.’
It added that SHI system ‘are second to none’, saying ‘there is nothing the NHS has achieved which the SHI systems have not also achieved’.
Laying out its plan to reform the NHS, the report said: ‘CCGs are, in a sense, comparable to insurers, so giving people free choice of CCG would be a necessary (albeit not sufficient) first step towards creating a quasi-SHI system.
‘CCGs’ budgets would then have to correspond closely to the risk profile of the patient population they cover, and this market should also be opened to private non-profit and for-profit insurers.
‘CCGs and non-NHS insurers should be free to offer a variety of health plans, including plans with co-payments and deductibles in exchange for rebates.’
Last week, as the NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary, IEA news editor Kate Andrews, maintained this position. She said: ‘No level of adoration or praise around its 70th anniversary can gloss over the fact that the system’s poor performance is costing thousands of lives each year.
She added: ‘Britain cannot settle for the status quo – the NHS is an international laggard in regards to health outcomes, ranking in the bottom third of comparisons for health system performance.
‘As demographics continue to shift and pressures on the NHS become more burdensome, it is time to look to the Social Health Insurance systems in Europe, under which thousands more people survive serious conditions every year, including strokes and common types of cancer.’
A spokesperson for the IEA said: ‘Neil Record’s support for Matt Hancock not only pre-dates his elevation to the chairmanship of the IEA, but it also pre-dates Matt Hancock’s promotion to any Government post.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, he has never had any commercial or any other lobbying-type relationship with Matt in any of his Ministerial posts, nor has he ever discussed his responsibilities in any context that relates to him personally, or his chairmanship of the IEA.
‘His donation is personal. It is already in the public domain that he is a personal supporter of, and donor to, the Conservative Party. This in no way alters the IEA’s position of independence from alignment with any political party.’
The Department of Health and Social Care told our sister publication Pulse that Mr Hancock is absolutely committed to an NHS free at the point of use with no plans to reform the health service.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.