Lord Warners suggestion of a £10 a month subscription fee to the NHS hasnt gone down well so here are five other ideas from history he could use instead.
Throughout Europe religious orders have provided the great majority of care to those too poor or sick to be able to pay for medical attention. Theyve dealt with every part of health care, from foundling hospitals for abandoned babies, to leprosariums for the shunned and contagious. In fact, Hildegard of Bingen, one of the most famous healers of the medieval period and author of books on natural history and medicine, was a nun. Nuns are notoriously cheap labour, and best of all hospitals can be run on a mixed funding basis with contributions from rich local benefactors, the church, and the state.
Two announcements about public sector pay caught the headlines recently. The government accepted recommendations of a 1% rise for several groups, including civil servants. And the health secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would be too expensive for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change a system designed to create better links between pay and career progression to receive both increments and the 1%. They can only have one or the other.
These decisions reflect the continuing clampdown on public sector pay and ministers' growing awareness of the cost of incremental pay. Each announcement raises specific issues, but they also reflect a common theme.
The number of babies born to women over the age of 50 has more than doubled in four years, it is reported.
There were 154 babies born to mothers in their 50s in 2012, a rise of a third in a year. That figure was more than double the 69 births to over-50s in 2008, and around three-and-a-half times the 44 babies born to the over-50s in 2000.
In April 2013, CCGs were introduced to replace primary care trusts as the commissioners of most services funded by the NHS and they now control about two thirds of the NHS budget. The key change is that clinicians play a greater role in deciding how funds are spent on commissioning services and all general practices in England are legally obliged to be a member of a CCG.
Not all GPs are involved with their local CCGs and therefore the extent to which GPs are actually engaged in making decisions about the management of the NHS varies. Kate Adams, a GP in Hackney, thinks overall engagement between GPs and CCGs is growing under the new arrangements. "GPs are working more closely together between practices and there is closer working between doctors and managers, which is a good thing," she says. GPs have an important role to play in giving "clinical input to redesigning care pathways", she adds.
If you read Larry Elliot's recent article about job reductions in the public sector you are probably quite worried. Who wouldn't be? After all, in truth, the austerity programme has only really just started with about 0.75 million public sector jobs to go in the next four years. Of course, if you work in local government the axe is already falling. Spending in some authorities is just over half of what it was at its peak in 2010.
A care and cash crisis is sending the NHS bust. In its present form, a shortfall of £30bn a year, or more, is expected by 2020. Paying off the nation's deficit means five more years of further deep public expenditure cuts, whoever is in government. So, over-protecting an outdated, cosseted and unaffordable healthcare system inevitably means starving other vital public services, unless we choke off economic growth and worsen the cost of living with big tax increases. That might be worth contemplating if the NHS was offering brilliant care. But it isn't.
Just look at the thousands of frail elderly people who get the care they need only by queuing in A&E and spending weeks in hospital the most expensive and often the worst way to look after them. And let's not forget that the NHS is sleepwalking through an obesity epidemic.
Everyone in the UK should start paying a £10-a-month NHS "membership charge" to save it from sliding into a decline that threatens its existence, a former Labour health minister has urged.
Lord Warner, who served under Tony Blair, warns that the NHS will become unsustainable without new sources of funding and painful changes.
Why has no one ever written a book like this before? It simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self-doubt, of a phenomenal neurosurgeon who has been at the height of his specialism for decades and now has chosen, with retirement looming, to write an honest book. Why haven't more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty? Of blood and doubts, mistakes, decisions: were they all so unable to descend into the mire of Grub Street, unless it was with black or, worse, "wry" humour?
Well, thank God for Henry Marsh. His speciality is drilling into people's heads and sucking out or cauterising various problem globules, usually life-threatening. Those are the bald basics, but they disguise a multitude of traumas, not least those of a very human surgeon. He writes with near-existential subtlety about the very fact of operating within a brain, supposed repository of the soul and with myriad capacities for emotion, memory, belief, speech and, maybe, soul: but also, mainly, jelly and blood. He has been 4mm away, often, even with microtelescopes, from catastrophe.
Stella Feehily's new play is about the NHS. Agitprop theatre, which is what this unabashedly is ("We've lost our NHS. Who the fuck did that?"), can be vibrant and exciting, but it has potential pitfalls. The obvious ones include preaching to the converted and alienating anyone who holds an alternative viewpoint. There are others, too: characters and plot being warped to fit the propagandist position; action geared to stimulate knee-jerk reactions.
Not so here. Feehily meshes her characters and their drama so tightly with the agitprop techniques that there is not even a crack to separate them. A touching drama about one family's encounters with their local hospital intertwines with a surreal, hilarious and hard-hitting examination of the history, politics, economics and day-to-day running of the NHS.