A debate over the direction the NHS is taking has been called for by members of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
They have raised the spectre of care having to be rationed to cope with issues such as an ageing UK population, demands for new and expensive drugs and cuts in public spending.
Says Dr Stuart Rodger: ‘Rationing of NHS treatment is a very sensitive subject … [but] faced with limited budgets, the NHS cannot indefinitely continue to afford to fund free care for all.’
A meeting of members heard that the hard-pressed health service will also face significant public challenges in the form of rising costs associated with obesity and alcohol abuse, the debate heard.
He says: ‘It is clear that this situation is not sustainable financially, particularly when taking into the account the anticipated impact of the recession on the NHS, and that something will have to give if the NHS is to survive.’
The college has called for a debate about how long the country can continue to afford to pay for free health care.
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