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Patients who eat 'doughnuts for breakfast' should be charged for prescriptions, says Tory MP

People with lifestyle related diseases such as type 2 diabetes should be forced to pay for their prescriptions, according to Tory MP and practising GP Dr Phillip Lee.

The Thames Valley GP said that access to free medicines on the NHS will need to be limited because 21st century Britons are unwilling to put up with aches and pains in the way that the generation of wartime survivors did.

He said that the majority of patients for whom medication is prescribed are suffering from conditions which are predominantly to do with lifestyle. He added that some must learn to live healthier lives or help meet the cost of their care from their own pockets.

He said: ‘If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication down the line,’ he said.

‘One statistic is that 25% of the NHS budget by 2025 will be for diabetes alone. This clearly isn’t a sustainable position.

‘So, I would suggest that one way of perhaps trying to move that locus of responsibility for healthcare from the state to the individual, would be in making it the case that you pay for your drugs at cost.  By doing that you would then be attaching a consequence to lifestyle choice.”

Dr Lee was speaking as part of a series of presentations from members of the Free Enterprise Group ahead of next week’s Autumn Budget Statement.

Dr Lee said that the government and the public needed to recognise that the way the NHS had been set up for a generation of ‘stoic’ British people was now no longer viable and take steps to reform it accordingly, otherwise the health system faced what he alarmingly described as ‘collapse’.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Is the plan just to single out the fatties with diabetes, or will all lifestyle choices be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by tory politicians? Obesity, smoking, alcohol, and sedentary lifestyle are all established independent risk factors for breast cancer, so does Dr Lee suggest that women who tick any of these boxes are denied treatment and left to die in agony unless they stump up the cost?
    Money needs to be spent on educating the public how to improve their lifestyle and how to use the NHS appropriately, but his reference to the stoicism of the wartime generation is silly. Why not bring back food rationing, that will sort the fatties!

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  • Let common sense prevail

    For a practising GP to suggest that all cases of Type 2 diabetes are self-inflicted by lifestyle choice is, in my opinion, rather surprising.
    Similarly, to suggest that individuals pay for their own care if they have had any influence over their condition is unreasonable. What about antenatal care? Sporting injuries? Swimmers with otitis? Caffeine drinkers with palpitations? Sexually transmitted diseases? Builders with sciatica?
    Why don't we buy a small island somewhere and send all those we don't wish to treat to live and die there. A modern day leper colony.
    I'm exasperated when I read comments like these from someone elected to represent 'the people' in parliament.

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  • Interesting viewpoint I would suggest. When will our health Service Clinicians all have to take reductions in salary if they smoke, partake of alcohol, are clinically obese or ..... - food for thought!

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  • How does a full time MP have time to be a practicing GP as well?

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  • What else would an MP do with his time - oh I forgot join a TV reality show!

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  • It would be better if only diabetic medicines is prescribed freely rather then all other medicines which will help to cut down the cost.
    This should be applied to also patients with Thyroid pproblem.Only Thyroid related medication should be free on prescription and not all other medicines.
    Same applies with other chronic diseases where all prescriptions are free.

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  • Certainly agree with the view that only the relevant medicines for conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism are included in free prescriptions, and not every item..it's never made sense that a diabetic asthmatic can have their inhalers free of charge, but an asthmatic with no diabetes would not be entitled to free inhalers!
    And I support the move to blacklist many more medicines from prescription...fed up with arguing that people can buy paracetamol and antihistamines over the counter and they don't need a prescription.......

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  • As a Hypothyroidism sufferer I would be quite happy to only get my thyroid treatments free and pay for the rest ---
    As long as my condition was actually treated properly - and sadly that wont happen until GPs recognise that T4 therapy does not provide the total treatment for everyone. Maybe with the money they save by not giving us everything free they could actually look at prescribing T3 or NDT on the NHS - Oh but first most would need educated as to what they are, why they are often a better solution and that they CAN be prescribed on the NHS!
    Yes take away my right to free medicines - just prescribe what will really make me well!

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  • The WEL program in Highland tested staff and patient groups and found the same very high insulin level in both groups. Over 30% were pre-diabetic. Most people are eating far to much sugar and refined carbohydrates which quickly get broken down into sugar requiring a high level of insulin to bring the blood sugar levels down. There is then and overshoot, causing low blood sugar and then we start nibbling more sugary things. Most of us need to significantly change our diet. Many breakfast cereals have just as much sugar as a doughnut. It would be interesting to see what Phillip Lee thinks is a good diet. He well find it won't help obesity levels at all. Low fat diets are often high sugar so that they taste right and it's the sugar not the fat that causes the obesity. The WEL program recommends 'Eat food!' What is food? 'Something that has recently been alive'. Most of what we eat counts as junk. They found rats did better on the cereal packet rather than the cereal!

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  • The arguments in this article dont make sense.

    FOR EXAMPLE

    That eating doughnuts for breakfast is a lifestyle choice.

    That lifestyle choices are determined by individuals - what about marketing influence, political influence. We could stop selling doughnuts in total, or make it illegal to sell doughnuts to obese individuals. Then allocate police resource to catch them.

    That people who eat donughts for breakfast get diabetes. There are other causes. We could charge all south asians or those with pancreatic diseases.

    That charging prescription costs will reduce the lifestyle choices people make and hence the impact of cost on the NHS. We already charge for other prescriptions and this doesnt seem to work.

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