THE NHS “must be maintained on its founding principles”, Scotland’s Health Secretary has said after Sajid Javid called for patients to be charged to visit GPs and A&Es.

Writing in The Times, the former UK Government health secretary argued that the current free-at-the-point-of-need NHS model is “unsustainable”.

Javid called for a “grown-up, hard-headed conversation” about revamping the health service, noting that “too often the appreciation for the NHS has become a religious fervour and a barrier to reform”.

The National:

Downing Street said that the Prime Minister is not “currently” looking at the proposals, which could see patients required to pay £20 to see their GP or over £60 for an A&E trip.

The Scottish Government said out its opposition to the suggestions. As health is devolved, any decision like charging patients for care would be a matter for Holyrood.

“The Scottish Government’s policy could not be clearer, our National Health Service must be maintained on its founding principles – publicly owned, publicly operated, and free at the point of need,” Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said.

READ MORE: Scottish independence poll gives Yes a HUGE lead amid gender bill row

“The provision of health services must always be based on the individual needs of a patient – and any suggestion that this should in some way be based on ability to pay is abhorrent.”

He added: “These principles are not up for debate or discussion.”

The National: Sajid Javid

Meanwhile, Javid’s comments sparked heavy criticism from Labour’s shadow health secretary.

Wes Streeting tweeted “over my dead body” in response to Javid’s proposals.

“An NHS free at the point of use has been its central equitable principle for 75 years. Patients should never have to worry about the bill,” he said.

READ MORE: Anger as Wes Streeting launches attack on the BMA health union

However, Streeting has said that reform is required within the health service as various challenges mount up.

He told The Guardian: “In recent elections, the left has given a lot of people the impression the answer to everything is to pour more money in. Of course investment is needed in the NHS, but ask any patient about their miserable experiences and it’s partly about culture and systems. That’s got to change too.”