This year Britain's National Health Service (NHS), a single payer system worthy of emulation, say its American boosters, will celebrate 60 years of queues and DIY dentistry by introducing a new "patient constitution" that, according to reports, will refuse treatment to those who smoke or spend inordinate amounts of time on the couch time eating fried Mars bars and watching Eastenders. The Telegraph editorializes:
The inadequacy of our healthcare model has led us to a senseless (and heartless) contradictory position: the Department of Health states categorically that "co-payment" is unacceptable because it would result in an unequal system in which better-off patients would have advantages that poorer ones do not. But it now plans to refuse care to people whose unhealthy lifestyles are usually associated with poverty and deprivation. The extraordinary high-handedness of these proposals is symptomatic of all that is wrong with a tax-funded monopoly health system run by central government: ordinary people are encouraged to think of healthcare as a gift of the state.
The Telegraph also uncovers an internal Department of Health memo advising doctors to steer some patients towards self-treatment, thus avoiding doctor and emergency room visits and saving the NHS billions in overhead costs
Millions of people with arthritis, asthma and even heart failure will be urged to treat themselves as part of a Government plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget. Instead of going to hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out "self care" as the Department of Health (DoH) tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending.
The Prime Minister claimed the self-care agenda was about increasing patient choice and "personalised" services. But an internal Government document seen by The Daily Telegraph makes clear that the policy is a money-saving measure, a key plank of DoH plans to cut costs.