Too fat? The cash-starved NHS might not treat you

Peter Pallot asks whether the Government should take a tougher line on those who do not look after their health.  Even opponents of the Coalition accept that it has been very good at getting across the dire state of Britain’s finances.  It has hammered home the message that every one pound in four that it spends – has to be borrowed.

Now comes a report suggesting that the public is  realistic about the limitations of state-run healthcare.  Many people think that the Government could,  take a tougher line on those who do not look after themselves.

In 2007, the then Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, defended as “perfectly legitimate” the refusal of NHS trusts to provide some treatments to heavy smokers and the obese. At the time, four trusts were refusing joint replacements for those seriously overweight. Miss Hewitt said that trusts were entitled “to get together with their doctors on any area of clinical judgment and say ‘these are the guidelines for this kind of treatment’.”

The think-tank also foresees an end to subsidised dental care, complementary medicine, and obesity surgery and drugs. The report, based on interviews with leading doctors, opinion polls and other research, even predicts that dementia care will cease to be offered on the NHS.

Dr Sarah Brewer, a GP consulted for the report, said: “There will be less money from the state to help people maintain their health, so something needs to give, and increasingly it will be up to us to take responsibility for our own health.

“In addition, there will be endless reduction at the funding of all sorts of treatments. The changes will certainly be profound.”