Patients charged £75 for hospital bed if NHS cash crisis continues
Senior bosses warned they will need to “think the unthinkable” if funding fails to keep up with soaring demand.
The shock admission came from Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which speaks on behalf of all health service commissioners and providers.
He said: “If the NHS cannot afford to fund everything, then it will need to make tough choices about what it does fund.
“Do we think about increasing our tolerance for longer wait for care, or do we say: ‘NHS funding is only for the health aspects of care and treatment’, which means patients being asked to cover their hotel costs for bed and board?”
NHS managers may also have to reconsider whether to offer surgery for some minor conditions, Mr Webster said.
Another senior NHS source suggested overnight stay fees could be means-tested and set at around £75 per night.
Health service managers expect the NHS to plunge into the red either this year or next.
The NHS Confederation has said at least £2billion per year for two years is needed to maintain current levels of service.
All three main parties have pledged to protect or increase NHS spending in the next parliament.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The NHS will remain free at the point of use.”