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‘Netflix NHS’ vision does not mean we will pay a subscription – Javid

The Health Secretary was quizzed about his analogy likening the NHS to the now-defunct video store Blockbuster.

08 June 2022

The Health Secretary has insisted that people will not have to start paying a “subscription” for the NHS after setting out his vision for modernising the health service.

Sajid Javid likened the current system to the now-defunct video store Blockbuster, saying the country has a “Blockbuster healthcare system in the age of Netflix”.

He said that his comments, made to a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, meant that the NHS needs to modernise.

Asked whether his Netflix reference meant people would need to start paying for a subscription, he told BBC News: “Not at all.

“I’m very proud of that we’ve got an NHS that is free at the point of use, paid out of our general taxation, there for all of us when we need it.

“But what I mean by that particular comment is it needs to modernise.

“We need to make sure that we keep modernising that we have a NHS that is looking out towards the 2048, not one that was designed for 1948.

“And the Blockbuster analogy is that, for those those that remember Blockbuster, is that it failed to modernise, it failed to adapt to changing trends in markets, and therefore it wasn’t able to serve its customers and did not survive.

“No-one wants to see that kind of thing happen to something as important as the NHS.

“And that means making sure that the NHS is is looking at the latest demographics, our ageing population, the changes in the burden of disease use – for example, we have more dementia and certain types of cancer today than ever before – and also medicines and the latest technology.”

He said that the Covid-19 pandemic “produced a moment for us as a country to really grasp modernisation in a way that we haven’t” previously.

Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid (James Manning/PA)

And Mr Javid told Times Radio: “Anyone who remembers Blockbuster will remember a company that basically failed to modernise and as a result, it wasn’t able to serve its customers or indeed survive.

“I’m very proud of our NHS, and I want it to always be there giving us world-class healthcare, free at the point of use, paid out of general taxation, but in doing so, we (need to) just make sure that it’s modern.

“So it’s about modernisation, to make sure the NHS is giving the very best care to all of us.”

Blockbuster closed its remaining stores in the UK in December 2013, after administrators were unable to find a buyer for the chain.

It had been hit hard by intense competition from supermarkets, as well as the shift from physical rental and sales to online games, music and films.

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