The government is considering fining patients for missing NHS appointments.
Rishi Sunak was announced as the new prime minister earlier this week, taking over from Liz Truss, who lasted less than six weeks in the job.
And the former chancellor of the exchequer has already reiterated his plans to potentially charge patients who fail to turn up to appointments.
According to the NHS, there are around 15 million missed appointments every year in the UK, which accounts for around five percent of the 307m scheduled appointments with GPs, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Sunak and others believe that essentially fining people failing to cancel an appointment in advance should pay £10.
Under the proposals, people would not be fined for the first missed appointment, but would for any subsequent incidents.
When asked about the plans, Sunak said he 'stood by his sentiment' and was 'definitely committed to ensuring that we get the best value for taxpayers, the best value for money out of the NHS'.
However, the new PM is now facing a backlash from the medical community.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says the fines would 'inevitably impact the poorest' and fears it could 'discourage' those who are sick from booking any future appointments.
Philip Banfield, the chairman of the BMA, believes it would 'ultimately threaten the fundamental principle that the NHS delivers free care at the point of need for all'.
He said: "The BMA has always stood firmly against the idea of charging patients for missed appointments.
"While it is frustrating when patients do not attend, the reasons why this happens should be investigated rather than simply resorting to punishing them."
"Financially penalising patients inevitably impacts the poorest and most vulnerable in the community.
"This may discourage them from rebooking, exacerbating already worsening health inequalities and costing the NHS more."
Sunak became the third prime minister in less than two months earlier this week.
However, his tenure didn't get off to the best start, as he was heckled during his first speech, with protesters heard blasting 'I Predict A Riot' by Kaiser Chiefs on a loud speaker.
Sunak became leader of the Conservative Party yesterday after Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the race and former prime minister Boris Johnson announced he wouldn’t be running.
Today, Truss tendered her resignation to King Charles, ahead of Sunak meeting the King and formally being appointed.
Giving his first address as the Prime Minister, Sunak vowed: "I will unite our country not with words but with action. I will work day in and day out to deliver for you."
Featured Image Credit: Allstar Picture Library Ltd/Alamy Ianni Dimitrov Pictures/Alamy
Topics: Rishi Sunak, Politics, UK News, Boris Johnson