Boris Johnson called for patients to be charged to use the National Health Service, with free care maintained only for “the genuinely sick and for the elderly,” in a column unearthed by Business Insider.
The prime minister called for the extension of charges for services including ambulance journeys, in order to prevent free healthcare being “abused” by those who can afford it.
“If NHS services continue to be free in this way, they will continue to be abused, like any free service,” he wrote in the Spectator Magazine in 1995.
“If people have to pay for them, they will value them more.”
He added that those who say “the future the NHS should be for those who are genuinely sick, and for the elderly,” are “bang on the nail.”
Writing about his own experience of calling for an ambulance for one of his children, who then turned out not to be seriously ill, he asked: “Why should I not be charged, say, £50 for that inglorious episode, a fraction of its real cost?”
Johnson added that “it seems reasonable that the middle classes should be required to stump up for non-essential services they can well afford.”
Johnson claimed that the only reason charges hadn’t been introduced by the then Conservative government was because of political “cowardice.”
“I will not be charged for the ambulance because politicians dare not take away from the middle classes the benefits they have accrued under the welfare state,” he wrote.
“For the same reason, they will not take away all the other instruments of universal provision such as child benefit, disability allowance, and the rest. It is greed on our part and cowardice on theirs.”
Footage uncovered this week by the blog Red Roar showed Johnson calling for the break-up of the “monopolistic” NHS.
“I think it is all very well to treat the NHS as a religion, but it is legitimate for some of us to point out that insofar as it is a religion it is letting down its adherents very, very badly,” he told the House of Commons in 2002.
The Labour party said the column proved Johnson was secretly planning to dismantle the NHS.
“This is yet another quote direct from the horse’s mouth showing Boris Johnson does not support a free at the point of use NHS,” the Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Business Insider.
“These revelations are coming thick and fast and demonstrate Johnson’s extremist views on the NHS.
“More cuts, privatisation and now charges are on the way if Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party get five more years.”
The Conservative Party were contacted for comment.
Trump denies wanting NHS ‘on a silver platter’
The future of Britain’s healthcare system has become a central issue in the upcoming general election, with Johnson’s opponents accusing the prime minister of planning to include the NHS in a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.
The prime minister has denied any intention to include the NHS in trade talks.