IT is one of those questions which is always going to trip up politicians. It used to be about why Labour politicians sent their children to private schools; now it is about whether or not Conservative politicians use private healthcare.
Rishi Sunak should be able to spend his money as he likes but, as a publicly accountable Prime Minister who ultimately is in charge of the NHS, he should also be able to defend his personal healthcare decisions.
What does he feel the NHS doesn’t provide for himself and his family that requires him to go to the expense of paying privately?
There is an argument that for routine operations, private healthcare is a boon to the NHS – the private companies pay for treatments that otherwise the NHS would have to, therefore allowing its resources to be spent on poorer people while richer people are able to choose the surroundings in which they have the operation.
But does that argument extend to private GPs, as it is suggested Mr Sunak has used? GPs are the gateway to the care system, and so many ordinary people are so frustrated at waiting several weeks just to get a telephone call from their doctor. Is it right that this basic entry-level service is now so poor that the richest are paying to escape it?
Mr Sunak, like his predecessor William Hague, has been a real advocate for the hospital in Northallerton in his constituency, but he is wrong to duck this healthcare question. Rather than shy away from the debate, he should be able to explain his actions.
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