GP warns over 'lifestyle' illnesses
Patients suffering from diseases caused by "lifestyle choices" such as diabetes should pay for their medication to help save the NHS from collapse, a Tory GP urged.
Phillip Lee said the health service could "probably limp on for the rest of this decade" but warned pressure from baby boomers and younger patients, who he accused of being less "stoic" than the war generation, meant the system needs radical reform.
The practising locum and MP for Bracknell said the perception over what was an acceptable complaint to visit a doctor about was "profoundly different" between older and younger patients and claimed the change in attitude meant the NHS was no longer "fit for purpose".
Dr Lee, a member of the Free Enterprise group of Tory MPs, said patients must live healthier lives or help meet the cost of their care from their own pockets.
"If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication down the line," he said.
Dr Lee told the Institute of Economic Affairs event on government spending reform the drugs budget was between £12-15 billion a year but claimed it helped prop up the profits of high street chemists like Boots when GP surgeries could dispense drugs themselves, at a saving of at least £400 million.
He added: "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."
Free Enterprises members also called for further public sector pay and benefit freezes and means-testing on pensioner benefits.
Tory MP Chris Skidmore suggested tax credits as well as child benefits should be capped at a maximum of two children, something the IEA was told is likely to be "in the mix" at the next election, adding that the same policy as a cap on two children would save £3.5 billion.