Tory A-Lister’s big health charging idea

Tory A-Lister Julia Manning advocates charging for "lifestyle" illnesses. Does this represent the thin end of the wedge for Tory NHS charges?

David Cameron understands how crucial an NHS-friendly image is to Tory success. He may have ducked a Clause 4 moment but, in a first for a Conservative leader in opposition, he has actively championed a Tory commitment to maintaining NHS expenditure and the principle of universal access free at the point of need.

Beyond that Tory policy detail remains sketchy. Some elements are clearly stealing Labour’s clothes, with other rhetoric highlighting the key role of greater competition. Yet beyond pre-election PR, what are core Tory views about a health service built on socialist principles, which has delivered consistent progress on key standards and remains cost-effective? A few new clues are emerging.

In the summer Tory MEP Daniel Hamman provoked a Tory wobble after he denounced the NHS as a “mistake” that “made people iller” on Fox News. He was dismissed as “eccentric” by Cameron.

Now, a new right-of-centre vision claims that ending free treatment for minor or “lifestyle” illnesses, including fertility treatment and painkillers, could save the NHS £20 billion a year. The report is called ‘Responsibility in healthcare: changing the culture‘ by think-tank 2020health. The work is led by Tory “A-list” parliamentary hopeful, Julia Manning. It warns

“Cuts alone will not yield this level of savings so it is increasingly obvious that there needs to be reform of common health behaviours.”

This is described as promoting personal accountability for health, to combat “disease-mongering”. The report states that “examples of this include varicose veins, acne, short stature, IVF, cosmetic surgery and moderate increases in blood pressure or cholesterol.” It advocates fining drunks and drug addicts who present to A&E.

An official Tory line on the report’s ideas is awaited but it follows the Conservatives draft manifesto chapter on health committing to fine people who fail to turn up for NHS dental appointments.

Many commentators claim Cameron lacks a big idea – but evidently many Tories are rallying to his theme of the small state. Their ideas to shrink NHS coverage are starting to emerge.

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9 Responses to “Tory A-Lister’s big health charging idea”

  1. Will Straw

    RT @leftfootfwd: Could Tory A-lister Julia Manning's health charging idea be the shape of things to come? http://bit.ly/6T4BTA #welovethenhs

  2. Martin Johnston

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory A-lister Julia Manning's health charging idea be shape of things to come? http://bit.ly/6T4BTA #reasonsnottovotetory

  3. Garry Dent

    RT @leftfootfwd: Could Tory A-lister Julia Manning's health charging idea be the shape of things to come? http://bit.ly/6T4BTA

  4. Cityunslicker

    So you think this is a good idea then or not, to reduce lifestyle spending in the NHS?

  5. Giles

    I wanted to ask the same thing. Is there no limit to what should be paid for by society for which there is a purely private beneficiary? For example, laser eye surgery.

  6. Julia Manning

    Considering we sent you the report and answered your questions on our pulication, we are amazed that you still see fit to claim that we say £20Bn can be saved when we clearly state this is the amount that the NHS has been told to save by David Nicholson.
    Our suggestions are just that – suggestions – that we say the public should be consulted on. It patently is madness that it costs the taxpayer £56 for someone to see a GP and have a basic medication like painkillers or fybogel on prescription when they could go into a pharmacy and buy a remedy for a few pence or a few pounds. Consultations for minor injuries cost an estimated £2Bn, and meanwhile cancer sufferers are going without life-saving medication and veterans without decent artificial limbs.

  7. Giles

    I agree with Julia here. The maddest feature of the current fiscal debate is the idea that the 1.5million/£100bn NHS cannot be changed in any way whatsover, no matter what the explicit or implicit costs of its current operating systems may be.

    It is a great system, but it is not perfect. Let us not have an election campaign based on ‘don’t touch a hair on its head’.

  8. Trevor

    City, Giles & Julia,
    I suspect the 35,000 women who annually undergo IVF (amongst other groups) will be underwhelmed to be told they are victims of their lifestyle choices, and should be denied any free NHS treatment.

    The NHS is regularly engaging people in looking after their own health (eg http://www.nhs.uk/Change4life) – but without being judgemental, and is constantly making adjustments about how funding is best spent – but not to the extent of charging patients.

    Finally, if your report is intended to stimulate debate then why the concern that we choose to cover it, in line with much of the national press?

  9. The Spicy Cauldron » Tory candidates get extreme right-wing training

    […] Tory A-Lister’s big health charging idea (leftfootforward.org) […]

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