NHS patients may have to pay for certain services unless there is a dramatic improvement in the state of the economy.
This is the view of professor Malcolm Grant, the NHS's chairman for England.
He believes that demand for services will grow sharply in the next few years and budgets will fail to keep pace. This could mean that fees and charges are applied to cover the shortfall.
"It’s not my responsibility to introduce new charging systems but it’s something which a future government will wish to reflect on, unless the economy has picked up sufficiently, because we can anticipate demand for NHS services rising by about four to five cent per annum," professor Grant told the Financial Times.
He did not specify which services are likely to become chargeable, but previous news reports have suggested that home visits by doctors and hospital meals are likely to be included.
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