I had never heard of Phillip Lee – the Conservative MP for Bracknell until about five minutes ago. He came into parliament after being put into a nice safe Tory seat in 2010 and hasn’t done much (if anything) to make waves in the national media…well until yesterday.
‘If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication. We need to match actions to consequences – at the moment that does not happen.’ he told the guests an an event organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs think tank. So those who develop a disease should pay for their treatment of said disease if they could be found at fault for getting said disease. This is surely a very slippery slope that the MP – who is still a practising GP – is saying we should go down.
He went on to say:
‘We have got to be bold here, we have got to be decided that the National Health Service in its current form is not sustainable.
‘It probably can limp on for the rest of this decade but the reality is the pressures coming from the baby boomer generation and their expectations of health care, their perceptions of pain and suffering is profoundly different to their stoic parents who survived the war.
‘It’s time we actually got quite realistic about this because if we don’t we are going to lose what most people would want in this country which is access to care when you need it irrespective of your means.
‘In which case, if we don’t start reforming now and actually accepting that the way Nye Bevan designed it in post-war stoic Britain has got to change then we are going to end up with collapse and the free for all and the pretty disgraceful situation you find in the US.’
I am all for reform in some capacity but here is where the line has to be drawn – that care is free at the point of contact – of that there is no debate. You should not be penalised for anything when it comes to the NHS. Just because you like doughnuts doesn’t mean you should have your right to free care stopped.
Now I have never been aware that our National Health Service is only applicable to people who have been afflicted by ailments that are not of their own doing. Do we start not admitting people to A&E if they are dunk and have fallen over? Do we say those who have smoked and developed lung cancer should be denied treatment? What about the families of those who have smoked who then have developed lung cancer? Will we have to have extensive inquiries as to whether these people did enough to stay out of the way of smokers?
Look I totally get the notion that we as individuals have to take more care of ourselves. I am a good case in point. I have a BMI just above the 25 that is the top level in the ideal zone. I was well below that but my exercise bike broke and I haven’t got around to buying a new one yet. I will but I just haven’t done so yet. I eat a pretty unhealthy diet but since changing Cherry Coke for juice as my staple drink of choice I have become a lot healthier just on that one simple lifestyle change. Should I be punished if in later life I develop diabetes before of my actions and addiction to sugary drinks in the past?
Also why single out those who eat doughnuts for breakfast? Have we seen a clinical report that has been widely accepted that if you eat doughnuts then you will develop diabetes or is he just using them as an example? What if you eat muffins for breakfast? What if you eat doughnuts for lunch and not breakfast? It is like he was just ‘thinking aloud’ and that is the type of thinking aloud that he really needs to wean himself off of.
The NHS is not there to decide who deserves free treatment and who doesn’t. It is there to treat patients who are unwell. It should not judge on lifestyle and I don’t see that a middle class family who can afford fresh fruit everyday should be treated any differently to a family who are having to get by on a cheaper (but less healthy) diet.
I truly think that his thoughts at this think tank were pretty disgusting and I hate the fact that he is being so open about judging different patients and he is a GP. No doubt he has patients who are now worried about how much he is judging them whenever they fall ill and have to go and see him.
I’m now about to go to Asda to get some lunch. I’m worried about what I eat in case it invalidates my right to free NHS treatment…