So, how much will upfront fees raise?
The government’s impact assessment estimates that this week’s changes will bring in £42m a year.
Only £20m of this comes from upfront fees themselves – the rest comes from “improving incentives for NHS trusts to comply with cost recovery legislation more widely”.
However, the government’s own analysis says the data behind these figures is mostly “incomplete or inconsistent” and rely on “broad assumptions”.
What’s more, several important questions appear to have been missed out of the calculations. Crucially, could the move lead to extra financial pressure on A&E?
After all, if some people miss out on planned, non-urgent care because of the upfront charges, they might end up being forced to go to A&E instead, which is free.
After days of questioning by FactCheck, the Department of Health (DoH) has admitted that the potential impact on A&E was not factored into its £42m profit claim.
But David Stuckler, professor of political economy and sociology at Oxford University told FactCheck that “if they end up putting more pressure on A&E, that costs more”.
“These are impacts which are foreseeable and we need to know them – or at least attempt to estimate them – before going ahead. But the government’s impact assessment hasn’t done that. It’s missing the full picture.”