i Editor's Letter: How should we cover the NHS debate?


Click to follow
The Independent Online


If you eat doughnuts for breakfast, you should pay for your own prescriptions in the event that you go on to develop diabetes. No, I'm not Dr Hatfield (although even I know that smoking kills) this blunt suggestion is that of Dr Phillip Lee, a GP who is also the backbench Conservative MP for Bracknell. It has already met with howls of outrage from those who say the state can't stray into proscribing people's lifestyles. Fear of this sort of backlash is why politicians traditionally steer clear of telling us to take responsibility for our own health.

Speaking at a think-tank meeting this week, Dr Lee argued that baby boomers were less stoic than their parents; that expectations of healthcare and perceptions of pain and suffering "were profoundly different to their parents who survived the war".

The very serious point he was making was that the NHS as we know it, and as was designed by the likes of Aneurin Bevan after the War, can only "limp on" financially until the end of this decade. It is a view we are beginning to hear from a wider cross-section of people, and one that it would be ostrich-like to ignore. But, my, how emotive a subject. It's not too outrageous a claim to say that the NHS is at the heart of what we perceive modern Britain to be about – remember Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony?

I don't have enough space here to fully explore the argument and the ramifications of what Dr Lee said. But we would really love to hear your views on this subject to help formulate how we cover what can only be an ever more heated and vital debate. And, in the meantime: eat less, move more.