Support our Nation today - please donate here
Opinion

Former Brexit Party leader in Wales advocates for social insurance system to pay for health care

19 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Mark Reckless. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Martin Shipton

Mark Reckless, the former leader of the Brexit Party in Wales, has suggested that the UK should consider abandoning its commitment to free health care for all, instead advocating a system under which individuals would be expected to pay for social insurance.

Political parties in the UK, even those on the hard right, have been reluctant to advocate a move away from the principle that NHS care should be free at the point of delivery, taking the view that to do so would alienate voters.

But contributing to a Twitter discussion, Mr Reckless has suggested there is an alternative to the “extremes” of universal free healthcare in the UK and the free market approach adopted in the United States, where decent treatment is unaffordable for many.

Defending the NHS, Anthony Glees, a well-known professor of politics at the University of Buckingham, tweeted: “The appalling alternative would be a US system, with free emergency care for the poor & prohibitively expensive treatment via insurance for everyone else.”

Mr Reckless responded: “Or we could have a mixed system with social insurance like almost every other developed country.”

In 2016, Mr Reckless was one of seven UKIP representatives elected to the then National Assembly.

After a series of upheavals and changing allegiances, he emerged as the leader of the newly established Brexit Party group.

By the time of the Senedd election in 2021, he had become a member of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party. He lost his seat.

Before coming to Wales, he was elected in 2010 as a Conservative MP in Kent, defecting to UKIP in 2014.

He resigned his seat, won the ensuing by-election but was defeated by the new Tory candidate at the 2015 general election.

Retired

When we contacted him after his tweet this week and asked him to expand on his views, he said he was reluctant to do so because he had “retired” from politics and was now devoting himself to his business interests.

He continues to live in Cardiff, where his wife Catriona is a Conservative councillor.

Mr Reckless did, however, confirm that he had worked as a researcher at Conservative Central Office from 2002 to 2005, at a time when the party looked at how other European countries funded their health services to see whether alternatives would be appropriate in the UK.

When David Cameron was elected party leader in 2005, he decided that moving away from universal free healthcare would be unacceptable. Such research was ended.

Nevertheless, nearly 20 years later the present and future funding of the NHS is a major problem that politicians in all four UK countries are finding difficult to cope with.

In Wales, around half the Welsh Government’s total budget is spent on the NHS and that proportion is predicted to rise as people live longer and health inflation exceeds the general rise in the cost of living.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that a former politician like Mr Reckless, who is no longer seeking votes, should advocate a change in the way the health service is funded.

Other European countries have social insurance schemes, where most people pay and those earning below a threshold get free treatment.

The likes of Mr Reckless argue that such arrangements can be more efficient and reduce waiting times to a minimum.

Radical change

Some politicians are already advocating radical change, although none have so far argued for any system that would involve charging for treatment.

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party, is advocating a system under which patients who were unable to access NHS treatment within a set deadline would be able to use a voucher and get treatment in the private sector.

Such a policy would be likely to be extremely costly, but those promoting it argue that it would act as an incentive to the NHS to operate more efficiently.

Yet those working within the NHS say that its problems are not, in the main, caused by inefficiency but by a lack of capacity and resources – and that more staff are needed to deal with the ever-increasing demands.

And while other countries in Europe and elsewhere may be able to steer a middle course between the UK and the US ways of organising healthcare, British people – and above all Welsh people – are unlikely to be persuaded any time soon to abandon a system under which treatment is free at the point of delivery.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dafydd
Dafydd
10 months ago

Because the USA really do it great, don’t they? People go bankrupt and die. I’m guessing he owns shares in an insurance company.

Karl
Karl
10 months ago
Reply to  Dafydd

Definitely smelling money or job opportunities. If only more people seen the 90s documentary showing uk Dr’s volunteering in US community centres. Often diagnosing cancer, knowing can’t help further. You aint a patriotic or rich country if you let people rot

Some1
Some1
10 months ago
Reply to  Dafydd

It’s worse than that. The American system so beloved by Conservatives actually costs the taxpayer more than the UK system.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
10 months ago

Awful, awful man!

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
10 months ago

A Reckless attitude from a Reckless man. No surprises there then…

roy
roy
10 months ago

ok when that happens then sugar tax is not needed any more eather. as we pay for or own care so its up to us to have as much sugar are what we wont with out the gov bitching

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
10 months ago
Reply to  roy

Wow…what a comment. I bet your kids not-so-secretly despise you…..

Karl
Karl
10 months ago
Reply to  roy

Just go to sainsburys, they already are breaking that tax it’s seems on shelf prices of sugar and sugar free drinks. Rather a sugar tax than a evil selfish and keep our NHS and keep government trying to improve health. Their job is to make our lives better, not sell us off.

Andrew
Andrew
10 months ago

Dick Wreck. Retired to pursue business interests? Turd Reich Consultancy and Cess Pit Limited. Sole Trader Soul Sold .

Pleb from the South
Pleb from the South
10 months ago

BNP Two? There’s one thing for sure. Mr Reckless Party-Hopper Reckless is not coming back to UKIP! UKIP this week readmitted Anne Marie Waters, viewed by some as a far right racist Islamophobe and all the rest. It heeded, too late though, wise advice and changed its Rules of Procedure to remove its age-old admission ban on members and ex-members of the BNP, EDL, Britain First and other patriotic organisations. It’s on their Twitter and webpages. UKIP’s Home Affairs spokesperson, @steveunwin01, tweeted direct Join Us invitations to the National Housing Party, a BNP offshoot led by the famous John Lawrence… Read more »

Rob
Rob
10 months ago

I take then we should privatise the Police force, fire service or schools as well?
Has he seen the Michael Moore film Sicko by any chance?
What did he think of the campaign for Brexit when it promised £350 million for the NHS? Or the argument by Abolish the Assembly Party to spend the money on hospitals? I guess that was all guff then.

Llyn
Llyn
10 months ago

Sadly once again shows that those old Labour voters who voted for Brexit were just useful idiots for a far-right/right wing movement. Don’t remember this idea being on the side of a bus.

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago

Now I know you are having a laugh, “dedicated his life to Welsh politics”, untill 2014 he was a Tory then UKIP MP in Kent.

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
10 months ago

Don’t we already pay? Its called ‘National Insurance’ and is deducted from people’s salaries every month, like it or not. So, what is he talking about??

Karl
Karl
10 months ago

Old news. Ukip or brexit party, all ex Tories who have often let it slip they want our NHS gone. Sadly it’s getting closer each day and these people turn us into a capitalists feeding frenzy. The NHS is the last of any decency and community we have. Brexit will have another crime to it’s list.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

So easy for a rich man to demand the removal of free health care from those poorer than himself.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.