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Unhealthy 'may be denied treatment'

  • 20 Comments

Free medical treatments could be cut back in the next decade as the NHS struggles under the strain of Britons’ unhealthy lifestyles, a report has warned.

Penalties could also be imposed on people who refuse to change their behaviour through similar legislation to the smoking ban, according to predictions made by Friends Provident and the Future Foundation.

The report - Visions of Britain 2020 - maps out the potential impact of people eating unhealthily, exercising too little and drinking too much alcohol despite Government health campaigns.

Experts told the researchers they predicted treatments including IVF and fertility treatment, dental treatment, obesitysurgery and drugs, dementia treatment and complementary therapies will no longer be free in 2020.

A poll for the report found Suffolk residents had the unhealthiest lifestyles, exercising the least compared with 10 other regions in the UK.

They were also least likely to take notice of their calorie intake and the least likely to follow recommended alcohol guidelines, according to the survey of 1,000 consumers.

Dr Sarah Brewer, a GP and medical journalist who was consulted for the report, said: “We all know that we should follow a healthy low-fat diet, eat at least five (portions of fruit and vegetables) a day etc.

“But how many actually do anything about it? Unless an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is penalised in some way no-one will change.”

Trevor Matthews, chief executive officer of Friends Provident, said: “We all know that the NHS will probably change in years to come, but some of the behaviours identified in the report mean that these changes will be much harder on us than what we expect them to be.

“We all need to adopt healthier lifestyles or else risk being faced with penalties in the years ahead.”

Dr Peter Bradley, public health director for NHS Suffolk, said: “Statistics show that people in Suffolk are relatively healthy compared to those in other parts of the country.

“Life expectancy is higher than the England average and is increasing in both sexes and figures from 2003 to 2005 show deaths due to smoking, cancer, heart disease and stroke are lower than the England average.

“However, as with the rest of the nation, unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, obesity and binge drinking affect all ages and communities and are a problem.

“Working with organisations throughout the county, the Healthy Ambitions Suffolk scheme aims to make Suffolk the healthiest county in Britain by 2028.

“It encourages people to take more exercise, makes it easier for people to gain access to services to help them stop smoking and raises awareness of the dangers of binge drinking.”

  • 20 Comments

Readers' comments (20)

  • Good! I am in total agreement of this!

    I have argued for this many times in many other threads (usually to the universal condemnation by all the bleeding hearts!) But it is basic common sense!

    Apart from the fact that the NHS resources are finite and are under massive strain, and we cannot continue to fund unlimited care for peoples poor lifestyle choices, this actually might FORCE people to make better lifestyle choices for themselves, to take individual responsibility for their choices and actions.

    Alongside positive actions such as better education, facilities and so on to enable people to become much fitter, healthier individuals, this can make a real, positive difference.

    I hope this scheme goes ahead.

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  • I agree about penalising those who are unhealthy to a point, but, can they then opt out of paying NI??? As the health service are failing to offer them a service.

    I am also curious about the criteria regulating. Will we see HIV patients denied Medication because they chose to have unprotected sex. Will I who exercises 3 times a week, eats healthy, doesn't smoke, but, on occasion drinks too much be considered unhealthy!!!

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  • What about those that exercise to excess and damage their joints are they to be denied treatment?

    What about nose jobs and breast implants why aren't they mentioned...the list can go on for miles.

    Sounds like a lot of noise without much thought.

    I have serious concerns about denying dementia care and dental care. You can't prevent dementia and dental care picks up other illnesses.

    People should perhaps think first, then think again and then speak.

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  • Anonymous | 17-Aug-2010 8:42 am, the last sentence in your post I agree with wholeheartedly. Almost everything else I take issue with. The list cannot go on for miles at all, and I will take your first point as as example. Excercise, yes people in time may damage their joints if they do not switch to/integrate non impact training into their routines, a judoka may break a bone, a tennis player may tear their rotator cuff, a swimmer may drown, for crying out loud! Excercise and a healthy lifestyle has far more health benefits that outweigh any risk directly associated with them, and those who partake in excercise may well require treatment for a broken bone or whatever, but that cost is a small fraction of the cost of the combined illnesses/injuries associated with poor lifestyle choices.

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  • Anonymous | 17-Aug-2010 7:52 am, to be honest, the NI system I am unsure about. Perhaps it can work on a simialar basis to the health insurance providers in Oz, where those who are unfit and lead poor lifestyles pay a premium, and those who stay fit and live healthy lifestyles pay practically nothing in comparison? Just a thought.

    I also think that this broad term of unhealthy, like you said, is a little bit too vague to base regulation/policy on and does need to be more specific in order for it to work. I would specify for example between smokers, drug users, obese people and drinkers, and perhaps have a sliding scale? There is a world of difference between those who enjoy an occassional alcaholic drink without excess, those who drink a little too much on occassion, and alchoholics who drink far too much every single day. There is a world of difference between those who are 1% of body fat over healthy levels (which many people can still be healthy with) and those who are 15 -20% over (which it is impossible to be healthy with)! (And yes, that does work in reverse too.) You see what I mean? The exception to this would be smokers and drug users (legal or illegal), there is absolutely no excuse to indulge in these habits, people know the score and the associated health problems are well known. Of course help should be given to help people quit, but if they refuse or relapse, then free treatment should be withdrawn.

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  • I agree about penalising those who are unhealthy to a point, but, can they then opt out of paying NI??? As the health service are failing to offer them a service.

    I am also curious about the criteria regulating. Will we see HIV patients denied Medication because they chose to have unprotected sex. Will I who exercises 3 times a week, eats healthy, doesn't smoke, but, on occasion drinks too much be considered unhealthy!!!

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  • What most of you are saying here is that you believe in the abolition of the national health service & instead have an insurance based "service" like america. Is that right? If so why millions die in 2 world wars? why did they fight against facism & nazism? The NHS was set up so that every person could get free healthcare from cradle to grave. What most of you are saying is that this is OK but only if you deserve it! Only if you're lucky enough to come from a "normal" background & live in a society without abuse, violence, addiction. Also only if you go to the gym, or are naturally slim,or get away with binge drinking/rich enough to have a cocaine habit that doesnt affect your health etc. I worry for society itself! I worry for my Grandchildren & despite myself, hope that they conform so that they will get the healthcare their Great great Grandparents fought for.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Aug-2010 5:10 pm

    Well said!
    Mike you're behaving like a health fascist. You're not in charge, thanks be! and yet again demonstrate a worrying lack of empathy, human kindness and understanding

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  • Anonymous | 19-Aug-2010 5:10 pm, don't be ridiculous. I believe in the NHS wholeheartedly, I think it is one of the best things this country has ever done. However it is being abused on a grand scale and is on it's knees because it is being overused far beyond the original expectations of it. Free at the point of delivery should always be a byword, but it is a simple fact that there are individuals who through choice abuse the system, and something HAS to be done. And yes America is a mess, but look at Australia. No system is perfect, including ours, but we should be able to try and fix the problems so that the NHS is still there in 10 years time for those that need it, without the usual bleeding hearts dragging us all down with their usual dogma.

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  • Anonymous | 19-Aug-2010 7:00 pm, if you have a specific argument to make, make it and I will debate that with you, otherwise keep it shut.

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