‘Lifestyle patients’ may have to pay for their drugs in future says MP

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Posted 28/11/2012

The BBC has this week reported that Dr Phillip Lee, an MP and practising GP, has suggested those with medical conditions caused by their lifestyle may have to make a contribution to their healthcare costs in the future.

Dr Lee highlighted the increase in diabetes as a particular cause for concern, with the number of people diagnosed with the condition estimated to rise by 700,000 by the end of the decade and top four million by 2025. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% of diabetes cases, can be caused or exacerbated by a unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and being overweight, although this is not always the case as some sufferers have a genetic vulnerability.

Dr Lee said some evidence suggested diabetes treatments could account for a quarter of the NHS budget by 2025. He has suggested making patients pay for their drugs at cost, in an attempt to move the focus of responsibility for health care from the state to the individual. Dr Lee went onto say that pressures on the NHS could grow, because the “baby boomer” generation now approaching retirement expected more from the health service than their parents, who were “incredibly stoic”.

The Department of Health said the health service had to be able “to meet patients’ needs and expectations in the face of growing demand” from the public.

Sophie Bales, a medical injury solicitor at Ashtons Legal, comments: “Dr Lee’s view is that those patients whose conditions are caused by their lifestyle choice should have to make a contribution to their healthcare costs. I understand Dr Lee’s concerns that the NHS is under great pressure, which is likely to increase over the next few decades. However, it remains to be seen how his idea would possibly work in practice; for example, in many cases there are many different factors which cause a condition, rather than just lifestyle alone. In my mind, his plan also goes against the whole principle of the NHS; publicly funded healthcare for all, free at the point of use.”Read more about our Medical Injury services.


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