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'The NHS cannot continue to fund free care for all'


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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Readers' comments (7)

  • Health care should not be rationed for whom it is intended 'The UK tax payers' and who incidentally fund the NHS. Healthcare should however, no longer be free to non UK residents, 'something I have observed many times at great expense to the tax payer'. It should be an entry requirement to the UK to have medical insurance. This is the same hospitality afforded to all UK travellers when traveling to other countries.

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  • I agree with anonymous

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  • I agree also

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  • I work as a flight nurse and often handle cases where patients have had to 'top up' care provided because the E111 (European Medical card scheme no - can't remember what it's called) doesn't cover the cost of care. Patients who have had skiing accidents are usually asked to pay for braces, spinal corsets, crutches, etc. Why do we not operate the same system here? Perhaps if we cut out all the health tourists, there may be a bit more money in the pot for those of use who've paid into it all our lives.

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  • Dear Sir ,
    It is usually rich people who talk about rationing public services .If we redistributed their wealth , there would be adequate services for all .

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  • I think that everyone can appreciate the growing financial burden on the NHS. However it the Tax Payer that has to meet the ever increasing cost of services in this country. Yet how can the Tax Payer be expected to continue to contribute to both increasing taxes and the potential requirement for independent medical insurance.

    Reality is that, in the future we may well be forced to make two financial contributions towards health care. But what happens to those who cannot afford private insurance (as there are significant numbers of over 25's who haven't even invested in a private pension).

    I would also strongly agree with the previous comment about redistribution of wealth, especially in the light of recent transfer fee's being paid for Football players! The world is going mad.

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  • The only way the NHS can possible continue is to means test health care. Those who can afford to pay should have the option to contribute to the NHS or have private health care. Those who cant afford to have it should continue to get free treatment. I also think that so called health tourist should foot the full bill we have to if we need treatment abroad.

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